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On Budget, a Split Personality for Obama

By Ben Pershing
Is President Obama suffering from an acute case of political schizophrenia? A week after signing the largest single spending bill in history, one that he acknowledges will swell the deficit, Obama will convene a "fiscal responsibility summit" at the White House today. And a week after hailing a stimulus measure meant to get the economy moving by increasing spending and cutting taxes, Obama will deliver the outline of a budget that will cut spending and increase taxes.

Obama may well seem schizophrenic, but he is also responding to the public mood. Whatever the specific details of the stimulus package, voters' desire for a big-ticket measure to get the economy moving again was always clear. At the same time, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that "deep public worry about the federal budget deficit has jumped since December." That could explain why Obama plans to push tough new budget rules, which would require mandatory spending cuts or tax increases to offset any spending increases or tax cuts that boost the deficit. Of course, Congress has supposedly operated under similar rules since Democrats took power in 2007, but the rules are regularly flouted.

Today's White House summit is nominally about entitlement reform, and as The Fix notes, Judd Gregg says that putting Social Security on a sounder footing isn't so hard from a technical standpoint. "It's the politics that are very hard," Gregg said. The same could be said of reducing the deficit. Doing so will likely entail some combination of spending cuts and tax increases, but what combination? Republicans almost certainly will oppose allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire, while many Democrats will protest if Obama seeks to slash domestic spending. The administration foresees a reduction in funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, but events on the ground -- particularly in the latter country -- may well frustrate that plan.

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Posted at 8:18 AM ET on Feb 23, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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Previous: Poll: GOP Voters More Worried on Deficit | Next: Few Americans 'Very Confident' in Social Security and Medicare


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What happened to "The Buck Stops Here"?

Posted by: JakeD | February 23, 2009 12:29 PM

Despite hefty tax and other government revenues during the stock and housing booms, Bush and friends spent $5 trillion MORE than they took in. We don't need any advice from those who gut us into this mess.
Republicans are actually BRAGGING that they want President Obama to fail. You know that his job is to return prosperity and peace to all Americans. The GOP wants America to fail. Why? Purely for Republicans' own political benefit. The two year election is over. We said yes to Mr. Obama. Republicans have decided to say "NO" to Ameica's successful future with the hope that by making things worse they can get back into power.
Bush left a record total debt of over $10 trillion at the beginning of The "Great George W. Bush Recession".

Posted by: skeetchamp | February 23, 2009 11:30 AM

It's much worse than just a split personality.

Posted by: JakeD | February 23, 2009 10:33 AM

He may really want to cut the deficit and be serious about balanced budgets, but this even is all for PR. His team knew the stimulus would be fresh on people's minds when they scheduled this summit last year. PR...

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 23, 2009 9:19 AM

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