President Barack Obama's budget was due Feb. 4. But over one month later, the public is still left clueless as to when the president's official proposal will actually be submitted.
Following the passage of this year's budget deadline (set by law on the first Monday of February), White House officials were identifying mid-March for the budget release. Then, March 25. Now, some news reports indicate early April; others say April 8.
The latest administration "update" came Monday from press secretary Jay Carney, who suggested during the White House press briefing that one reason for the delay is that the president is waiting to read proposals from Congress:
I don't have a date certain for you on the president’s budget. It’s being worked on. We are obviously watching Congress for budget proposals that will be put forward in both houses, and we will work with Congress in these conversations, as well as through our budget proposal...
Last week, Carney cited "manufactured" crises such as the "fiscal cliff" showdown at the start of the year, as a contributing factor to the holdup:
I don't have a specific date for you. There is no question that the series of crises, largely manufactured, that we and Congress have been having to deal with over the past several months have had an impact on that process. But the fact is we’re working on it and we will submit a budget.
So does it matter if the president's budget it late?
There is no penalty by law for missing the deadline. And as Carney noted Monday, the president's budget is never enacted in full by Congress. But it's still a part of the budget process, informs Congress where the White House stands and is used to help negotiate.
And the delay continues to serve as political fodder.
“President Obama is not only the worst spender in American history, but no other President has so openly flaunted his disregard of the budget process.," Republican Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said in a statement Friday. "By delaying his budget yet again, President Obama has once again shown he is an irresponsible, amateur President who has little desire to put America’s fiscal house back in order."
House Republicans this week are set to release their budget plan.