One of the little details lost among the health care reform, financial reform and every other reform since President Obama took office was when those so-called reforms were going to take effect. It turns out that little detail might just come back and bite Obama and the Democrats in the butt.
None of the reforms were scheduled to take effect right away. That’s because they had to be funded by Congress to take effect. And since the Congressional Democratic leadership and President Obama’s staff couldn’t take the time to organize themselves and get their business done as quickly as possible, there wasn’t enough time left in this session to pass the 2011 fiscal year budget. Even though the fiscal year started on October 1st (yes, 2.5 months ago). So what Congress has done instead is pass funding through continuing resolutions.
Unfortunately, they mean what they sound like: they continue current funding. They don’t allocate new funding. They don’t change funding levels for anything. They continue funding. The latest continuing resolution that passed Congress today funds the government through March 2011. That’s after Republican Teabaggers take control of the House of Representatives, where all spending bills must originate. There will be fewer Democratic Senators in March 2011 than there are now. The President has displayed an obsessive desire to negotiate with right-wing extremists and beat up on his base. Guess what’s going to happen the next time the budget comes up for debate and votes?
I’m betting Republican Teabaggers take the budget and de-fund all of President Obama’s and the Democrats’ absurdly over-negotiated reforms. Furthermore, I’m betting President Obama doesn’t fight the Republican Teabaggers on not funding his “victories”. He’s shown himself to care more that nobody is fighting than in passing good policies. Too few Democrats realized this political weakness prior to putting him into office. Now they have no choice. Democrats got frustrated in 2009 and 2010 when Obama didn’t push for the most he could get even when perfect situations screamed for him to do so. Just wait until he rolls over on issue after issue as Republican Teabaggers warm up their “spending is too high” talking points and begin investigating his administration for every silly, petty thing Teabaggers can dream up.
Which leads me again to address all the incrementalists that told liberal activists that we had to take what we could get and not expect a centimeter more: if your so-called reforms aren’t funded, what good are they? How much time, energy and money was wasted moving a pathetic distance toward solving some of this nation’s crises but won’t be enacted because of your overwhelming pragmatism?
How willing will Democrats be to donate to President Obama’s re-election campaign when these things happen? How many doors will they knock on? How many phone calls will they make? When the reforms go down in flames and unemployment stays high (because Obama never seriously addressed the Great Recession), will there be a 2012 “enthusiasm gap” that outshines the 2010 version? Only time will tell.