Obama will be releasing his budget on Monday, and it’s looking like good news for the progressives. But what does this mean for 2016?
Obama is planning to ditch the futile attempts at “grand bargains” with the Republicans and instead go with some left-leaning propositions progressives have been dreaming of, like taxing the rich in order to fund free community college.
The budget will probably get killed the moment it hits Congress, but its message still has interesting implications. With this budget, Obama is shifting the framework left — he’s putting on the table progressive ideas that weren’t even in play before. Whether or not they’re politically feasible, Obama is still opening up new conversations, or at least old ones that were being ignored. He’s giving the Elizabeth Warrens of the party some credence. But this new conversation creates a challenge for messaging for the Democrats, particularly in terms of What To Do About 2016.
It’ll be interesting to see if this leftward bend helps or hurts Hillary (if we assume she’s the nominee). It veers away from her typically centrist stance, but it also gives her something about Obama to fight against and differentiate herself from. In a presidential race like this one, that opportunity shouldn’t be discounted. It’ll also be interesting to see, in classic Pivotal Politics style, if shifting thinking leftward could actually help Hillary out, since the Republicans are focusing on more moderate candidates (Mitt Romney’s out so Jeb Bush is in a nice spot) — but that all depends on if the new ideas actually in any way increases the number of voters to Hillary’s left.
I’m clearly being way overly optimistic to pretend that Obama’s new proposal will excite people enough to accomplish this, but I do think it’s hard to judge what the proposal means for 2016. There’s a lot of ways this could go.