15 April 2011

Quick Thoughts On The 2012 Budget

First things first: AmeriCorps made it into this year's budget. To anyone who reached out to a member of Congress, thank you. It's good to know effective and efficient programs are still appreciated in Washington.

Second, it's eight o'clock on a Friday night in New York City, so you better believe I'm not spending it here on a longwinded post. But I do want to share my thoughts on the president's budget proposal before they become stale or influenced.

I believe Obama's proposal, however imperfect, is a much more realistic and reasonable approach to fiscal sanity than Paul Ryan and the Republicans' mathematically enigmatic monstrosity- almost $5 trillion in spending cuts, Medicare as we know it eliminated, trillions more lost in tax breaks, AND 3.5% unemployment in ten years??? It's a political nightmare to admit, but any sensible long term budget solution is going to have to include tax increases in one form or another. Democrats seem to recognize this fact despite its potential for electoral volatility, while Republicans seem intent on pursuing a dangerously flawed financial roadmap in order to appease (and reward) their clamoring base.

Obviously, Obama's plan should and will be debated in Congress and more cuts will inevitably be drawn from Medicare and non-defense discretionary spending. The President's version of the budget never looks like the one he ends up signing. But it's more than just a fiscal proposal, it's a statement, a declaration, and in this case more of a reminder, that despite his willingness to negotiate with (capitulate to, some would say) Republicans, inside President Obama's chest beats the heart of a liberal.

Time will tell if this partisan yet practical (it's pretty much in line with the Debt Panel's recommendations) vision of America's financial future will pass muster in Congress. It probably won't. But then again, neither will Ryan's. The final cut will be somewhere inbetween. Personally, I think Obama's budget is solid and should be the framework for congressional negotiations. Although it's a blatant shout out to the Democratic base, the proposal offers numerous constructive ideas and also serves to define the conversation, something Obama has struggled with in the past, as we head into 2012. Let the games begin.

Ok so that was kind of longwinded...Happy Birthday Dad!