by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Astonishingly, little importance in all this has been attached to the president’s budget. Mr. Obama was required by law to deliver one to Congress by Feb. 4. He has yet to do so. It hardly seems to matter: Congressional leaders plowed ahead anyway.
The budget drama reveals a more important phenomenon—that Mr. Obama has become a minor actor on Capitol Hill. On a growing array of issues, members of both parties have come to understand that progress is more likely with the president on the sideline.
For example, bipartisan groups of senators and congressmen are doing the difficult work of writing detailed immigration reform legislation. Mr. Reid—contrary to the president’s wishes—took it upon himself to sculpt a gun control bill that doesn’t include Mr. Obama’s bans on so-called “assault weapons” and, perhaps, limits on the capacity of ammunition clips.
There has been no movement in Congress on the president’s carbon tax. During Saturday’s budget debate, 79 senators supported repeal of ObamaCare’s tax on medical devices and 62 senators backed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (alas, both nonbinding votes). On issue after issue, Mr. Obama is being routinely ignored or rebuffed.
No president is ever irrelevant, but less than 10 weeks into his second term Mr. Obama’s power is waning. Even members of his own party view him as an obstacle to getting things done.