It’s not often I get the pleasure of laughing out loud when I read a “serious” political piece, especially one from an Obama acolyte, but I have to admit that this one completely lifted my mood. The author, David Kendall, at heart, seems to be an honest soul because he recognizes that there is nothing serious about the President’s proposed budget. If he was less blinded by ideology, he might use that knowledge to understand that either (a) the President is an idiot or (b) the President has made the first move in a very dangerous game of chicken, with the United States standing in for the car that’s heading for the cliff. Honesty, though, does not equal clarity and intelligence, so Kendall takes another tack altogether, and that’s what had me laughing.
What Kendall argues, with a perfectly straight face, boils down to this: the budget is a great thing because its awfulness sparks a necessary dialog:
A president’s budget is only as good as the debate that it engenders. After all, Congress doesn’t even have to vote on it, and it rarely does.
Measured by this standard, President Obama’s budget is a resounding success. Republicans have tagged it as a job-killer. Deficit hawks say it doesn’t go far enough. Budget doves fear the impact of cuts to heating assistance and numerous other programs.
Even with the criticism, it nudges the debate forward. It brings Democrats to the table with tough but necessary cuts that move away from stimulus spending. It challenges Republicans with long-term investments to unclog highways, expand exports and produce clean energy. And it tees up a debate about entitlements and taxes by making it clear that incremental changes aren’t enough to bring the debt down to previous levels.
You can read the rest here, in which Kendall essentially gives his opinion what he would do if he controlled the budget.
All I could think as I read Kendall’s gushy lemonade was “Silly me, I thought that proposed budgets from the executive office were meant to be serious efforts to manage the nation’s finances. It never occurred to me that the President’s duty apparently began and ended with getting a good conversation going.”