There was a lot of pressure on Democrats to pass his first budget by as wide a margin as possible. Now, some conservative Democrats face a pressing need to distance themselves from the president to bolster their chances of winning reelection in November’s midterm test.
Obama has proposed a leaner budget this time, which in itself is likely to cost him more votes than it picks up.
His $3.8 trillion budget calls for more spending on education and energy while also demanding that President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for high-income earners lapse.
It is unclear how much congressional Democrats will alter Obama’s proposal.
What is clear is that Democratic leaders in the House will have difficulty whipping members so soon after last month’s bruising healthcare vote.
Some Democratic members who voted against the health bill also rejected the final budget measure last year. These included Reps. John Barrow (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Frank Kratovil (Md.), Travis Childers (Miss.) and Glenn Nye (Va.).
The key to passage will be to convince skeptical Democrats that this year’s budget is the first of many measures that will rein in federal spending.
Another step is expected later this year after the president’s fiscal commission issues its recommendations.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) last week said the battle over healthcare reform is less important than the coming debate over the growing $12.8 trillion federal debt.