Is Obama’s Budget Proposal Just ‘Empty Symbolism’?

The general consensus is that President Obama’s proposed $3.9 trillion budget is dead on arrival:

Lori Montgomery offers five reasons why Obama’s budget matters even less than usual, asserting that the December 2013 two-year budget deal, and Republicans’ refusal to entertain the White House agenda, makes the proposal ineffectual.

Ed O’Keefe concludes that the “proposal will [not] go anywhere — and that’s by design.”

As Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) puts it: “Everybody realizes that both sides are going to continue to put out their message documents to show what they would do if they gained seats in the House or Senate.”

But Jonathan Cohn disagrees: “For one thing, some of Obama’s budget proposals could still become legislation, [perhaps] as scaled-down pilots or add-ons to other pieces of legislation.” Cohn cites funding for early childhood programs, expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and a major highway bill as some possibilities.

“A budget unlikely to generate legislation can still have meaning, as a statement of priorities. In this case, the Obama budget is a preview of the agenda Democrats will adopt whenever full-scale fiscal negotiations start up again.”