Obama Ignoring House Democrats In Budget Talks, Again
When the Obama White House made a deal last December to extend the Bush tax cuts during Congress’s lame duck session, there were many Democrats who complained that the White House had completely ignored them and cut them out of negotiations. As we get closer and closer to the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline, it seems as though that’s happening again:
House Democrats feel like jilted lovers.
They’re looking down Pennsylvania Avenue for some sign of affection from President Obama in the White House. But all they feel they’re getting in return is the back of his hand.
“How is it that the House Democrats played such an important role [in the majority], and all of a sudden [the White House says], ‘Forget it, we’ll work with the Senate and the Republican leadership?’ ” asked Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), vice chairman of the Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee.
House Democrats’ frustration with Obama is boiling in the intense heat of negotiations to reach a budget deal and raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.
Capitol Hill Democrats have been steaming for months, since being sidelined during talks to extend the George W. Bush-era tax rates and fund the government this year. Many say the White House takes their support for granted but ignores them when it comes to making policy.
“Before this year we were playing a strong role,” said Cuellar, but “now a lot of us feel like we’re almost being ignored.”
A fellow Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Capitol Hill Democrats called months ago for oil to be released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gasoline prices, but the president waited until last week to do it.
The lawmaker called the White House “obtuse” and added, “I’m disappointed in their politics.”
The frustration “seems to be growing” with “senior members of the caucus … shaking their heads,” the lawmaker said.
The answer, of course, is that the White House knows that the House Democratic Caucus is pretty much irrelevant at this point in time. Nothing will pass the House without significant Republican support, and the Senate is so nearly evenly divided that you’ve got to include both sides. Once you’ve got a deal, there will always been enough hardcore loyalists in the Democratic caucus to vote “yes” along with the House GOP to get the bill passed.
Welcome to the minority, guys.