Opinion Brief

Is Obama's 2012 budget 'irrelevant?'

The president's $3.73 trillion budget would cut more than 200 federal programs. But critics wonder if the GOP will even read it

The president has sent a 2012 budget to Congress, a $3.7 trillion plan that proposes a mixed menu of cuts and investments. Obama reduces or eliminates funding for more than 200 federal programs, while spending on education, infrastructure and R&D. The budget is an opening salvo in a political battle with Republicans over the scale of spending cuts in the face of spiralling U.S. debt. But with the GOP dedicated to a far more severe program of cuts, is Obama's budget simply "irrelevant"? (Watch an AP report about Obama's proposal)

No, it's instructive: This budget has "substantive and political significance," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. The menu of "painful cuts in some areas," with added spending on "forward-thinking priorities like infrastructure," will make the president appear "reasonable" in the face of the Republicans' "stark raving mad" proposals for major cuts. It's smart politics — and protects Obama from the inevitable "public backlash" to "GOP extremism".
"The opening move"

Obama is shirking his duty: Obama has revealed his "true priorities" with this budget, says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. They are to "lay low, make Congress do the hard work, and demagogue serious cuts." This plan — which asks for spending to continue as is, alongside only marginal cuts — is an "extraordinary abrogation of leadership." We need severe cuts, not more spending. The field is wide open for the GOP to "seize the high ground."
"Obama proposes massive increase in the national debt"

This budget isn't even the real issue: Obama has disappointed everyone with this 2012 spending plan, but it doesn't matter, says Andrew Leonard at Salon. The president's last budget didn't pass, and this one "will certainly never get passed either," with the GOP in control of the House. This document is "just a sideshow." What really matters is the fight over a spending package that will keep the government running after March 4 — when the current budget deal expires.
"Obama's budget is irrelevant"

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