Crunching the Numbers on Obama's Budget

Experts critique the commander in chief's budget proposal

By Caitlin Millat
|  Wednesday, Sep 29, 2010  |  Updated 6:33 PM CDT
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Just Your Average Joe-Bama

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Obama's budget would propel the budget to a record-breaking $1.56 trillion.

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President Obama unveiled a $3.83 trillion budget request for the 2011 fiscal year Monday, proposing a bevy of tax hikes and cuts and a recession relief and job stimulus program that would propel the deficit to record heights.

The program, awaiting approval in Congress, has already met its share of criticism from the majority of pundits on the right and left, who have labeled the plan everything from unattainable to dead-on-arrival. But some experts say Obama's budget has legs -- and could provide the country's only chance for recovery:

  • Obama's promise to reduce the deficit with a spending freeze is nothing but smoke and mirrors, Greg Knapp writes for the Big Government blog. "Don't you hate it when you go to a 50 percent off sale and then realize the store marked up all the prices in order to offer the big savings? Welcome to President Barack Obama's spending freeze," Knapp writes.
     
  • The New York Times' Paul Krugman calls Obama's budget "depressing," citing the proposal's long-term, "family-destroying" projections of high unemployment as evidence the hopes of Obama's freshman-year past have been dashed, at least for the near future. "What we're witnessing is an awesome national failure," Krugman writes.
     
  • Obama's projections are bad -- but even those figures are probably too good to be true, Kyle Wingfield writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The budget's projected deficit relies on the assumptions that inflation will remain stagnant and the economy will grow in the next five years, Wingfield writes: "Bottom line: As bleak a picture as the administration paints, things probably aren't even that cheerful."
     
  • James Kwak writes for the Huffington Post that despite the depressing outlook, the deficit problem could be helped with legislation aimed at fixing the "long-term Medicare problem." According to Kwak, "the long-term deficit picture is all about Medicare" -- but addressing this problem in a weary, divided Congress makes it "hard to see where a solution can come from."
     
  • Yes, the Obama budget has its weaknesses, but it is the most decisive, drastic action Obama has taken -- or can take -- in a rocky political climate, Matthew Yglesias writes for The Daily Beast. Though the budget is "proposing the biggest deficits ever in nominal dollar terms," Yglesias writes, there's hope: "the Obama budget actually represents more-or-less the very most that can be achieved within the terms of political debate."

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