Obama's 2012 budget looks risky but is right move
Friday, February 17, 2012
President Obama is banking on his revived popularity to sell his next federal budget: a $3.8 trillion package that raises taxes on the wealthy, nicks defense spending and pushes through a handful of stimulus-style economic programs. It's a risky path that hinges on his re-election, but it's also the right direction for the country.
It's a confusing tangle, but it shouldn't obscure the president's approach. He's not a believer in budget cuts and austerity to pull the country out of the worst economic downturn since the Depression. After a fearful licking in 2010 congressional races, he now thinks he has the public behind him in arguing that job creation, training, education and research outweigh deficit reduction as the top priority.
If that sounds risky, consider the alternative: deep cuts in domestic spending, a lopsided tax system and nonstop ridicule of government, all hallmarks of the Republican outlook. Voters briefly warmed to this outlook two years ago, giving the GOP control of the House. But since then, the nation's been treated to standoffs and dysfunction that have discredited Republicans. This week, the GOP-led House agreed to an extension of a payroll tax cut pushed by Democrats, a clear sign that Republican leaders worry about their nay-saying image.
A budget plan is usually a careful document layered with dollar signs and program titles. But it's also a political blueprint that speaks volumes about its author's goals and beliefs. This budget should serve Obama well in pushing his agenda.