There was a revealing colloquy during President Obama's press conference last night.
I've edited it for brevity, leaving in the relevant sections. See if you can pick out the most interesting tidbit. The President called on ABC News' Jake Tapper:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
Right now on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats are writing a budget. And according to press accounts and their own statements, they're not including the middle-class tax cut that you include in the stimulus, they're talking about phasing that out, they're not including the cap-and-trade that you have in your budget, and they're not including other measures.
I know when you outlined your four priorities over the weekend, a number of these things were not in there. Will you sign a budget if it does not contain a middle-class tax cut, does not contain cap-and- trade?
OBAMA: Well, I've emphasized repeatedly what I expect out of this budget. I expect that there's serious efforts at health care reform and that we are driving down costs for families and businesses, and ultimately for the federal and state governments that are going to be broke if we continue on the current path.
[President highlights other policy priorities]
Now, we never expected, when we printed out our budget, that they would simply Xerox it and vote on it. We assume that it has to go through the legislative process. I have not yet seen the final product coming out of the Senate or the House, and we're in constant conversations with them.
[more on policy priorities]
Our point in the budget is: Let's get started now. We can't wait. And my expectation is that the Energy Committees or other relevant committees in both the House and the Senate are going to be moving forward a strong energy package. It will be authorized. We'll get it done. And I will sign it.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) willing to sign a budget that doesn't have those two provisions?
OBAMA: No, I -- what I said was that I haven't seen yet what provisions are in there. The bottom line is, is that I want to see health care, energy, education, and serious efforts to reduce our budget deficit.
And there are going to be a lot of details that are still being worked out, but I have confidence that we're going to be able to get a budget done that's reflective of what needs to happen in order to make sure that America grows.
Hey, Jake? The President doesn't sign the budget resolution. Here's one of many budget process primers you can look over.
The Fourth Estate is pretty weak on budget process, which contributes to the poor results that come out of Congress. Since the passage of omnibus legislation completing spending for this fiscal year (2009), WashingtonWatch.com has begun to highlight how the administration and Congress are falling behind schedule for fiscal year 2010. I've not seen anything in the mainstream media about the impending collapse of the budget process for the coming fiscal year.
Update: Jake Tapper contacted me about this post to explain that he was using the term "budget" as a shorthand for the reconciliation legislation that Congress often produces in the budget process. It's clear to me now that Jake Tapper knows the budget process -- and that he handles criticism well.