The stimulus served as a mere precursor to the major battle over Obama's budget, which represents a once-in-a-generation chance for the Democratic Party to reshape the priorities of the federal government--to reduce America's unsustainable carbon emissions and reform its bloated, cruel health care system. Democrats have utterly failed to rise to the occasion.
The first sign of how the Senate would respond came on February 27, when Kent Conrad, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, gave an interview to CNBC. Conrad listed three objections to Obama's budget. First, he opposed a provision to limit tax deductions for high-income earners. Second, he opposed a new cap on crop subsidies to farmers who take in more than $500,000 per year. And, third, he upbraided Obama for not doing more to reduce the budget deficit.
You might think a performance like this--demanding that Obama do more to reduce the deficit while simultaneously opposing his deficit-reducing measures--would have turned Conrad into a punch line. Instead, it launched him as a symbol of fiscal rectitude and encouraged fellow Democrats to follow in his hypocritical wake. Numerous Democrats have since stepped forward to join what news reports have accurately described as a "revolt" against Obama's budget.