President Obama declares his budget "is about looking forward." Republicans replied that it is about looking backward to seven years of obstructionism.
The president Tuesday released his budget for fiscal 2017, which starts Oct. 1, and constitutes the final budget plan of his presidency. Not much of it is surprising, as so-called discretionary spending only makes up 25 percent of the budget, with mandatory spending, such as interest on the federal debt, and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, locked in. The deficit will rise from $438 billion to $616 billion because of tax cuts congressional Republicans insisted the president agree to last December as part of a budget resolution avoiding a potential government shutdown.
Even before getting the budget, however, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees had announced last week that they would not invite Shaun Donovan, the president's budget director, to testify before them. This snub breaks a 40-year tradition that had continued through Democratic and Republican presidents and Democratic and Republican congressional leadership teams.
This nasty, although not surprising, rebuke tells us that Republicans had already made their minds up on the budget. They are particularly peeved by the president's proposal to spend $300 billion over a decade on infrastructure improvements and green-energy vehicles and fund it with a $10-a-barrel fee on oil. This is a good plan that most Americans would likely support but upsets the GOP's friends in the fossil fuel industry.
The Republican response to President Obama's budget proposal also tells Americans what to expect from Washington, D.C. this election year. Partisan politics, gridlock and no progress on real issues.