Unless I missed it, the president stayed away from the two big topics that are dominating much of the discussion inside the Beltway these days — the debt ceiling that’s about to be reached and the continuing resolution that’s about to expire.
This is not surprising: If you look at the speech as a whole it’s clear that the White House didn’t want to talk about legislative battles or…and far more important…didn’t want the discussion after the speech to be about process. Think back to the health care reform debate. Those types of endless arguments (For example…Should reconciliation be used to consider the legislation in the Senate?) not only scored no points but angered those outside of Washington who quickly got tired of the political and procedural jockeying that seemed to go nowhere.
In fact, other than the promise to veto any appropriation with earmarks, which was more an attempt to be the macho president Americans seem to love than anything else, the two big budget issues on the immediate horizon weren’t mentioned. There were no threats or concessions, no predictions of dire consequences, the words “shutdown” and “default” weren’t used, and, what probably was most important from the administration’s perspective, no budget red meat for the GOP and tea party types to devour.
That doesn’t mean the debt ceiling and CR won’t soon be the big problems we expect them to be, only that the president was able to get through the SOTU without making them THE issues of the evening and today’s topic #1. The administration didn’t back itself into a corner.
If you’re scoring this at home…Advantage White House.