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Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 02/14/2011

Why cover the budget at all? (Plus: E2I2!)

By Ezra Klein

A couple of readers have e-mailed to ask why I'm wasting all this time on a budget document that'll never survive negotiations with a Republican Congress. The answer, put simply, is that it's important to know what the White House wants, and where they're starting from in negotiations. If the cuts to the military had been much larger, you could've imagined military cuts being a big part of the eventual deal between Republicans and Democrats. Now they won't be. If the White House had opened up entitlements, or tax expenditures, that would've made them likelier elements in an eventual compromise.

The budget also previews the White House's political strategy going into these negotiations -- and the public relations campaign that will precede them. And E.J. Dionne gets their message just right:

Today begins the war over E2I2.

The great budget battle of Bill Clinton's presidency was waged around a set of initials also inspired by the "Star Wars" character R2D2. Clinton's lieutenants jauntily encapsulated his fight against Republican cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education and the environment as a defense of M2E2.

For President Obama, the battle lines will be drawn on investments in -- or, as Republicans would say, spending on -- education, energy, infrastructure and innovation, thus E2I2.

By Ezra Klein  | February 14, 2011; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Budget  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: 2012 Budget: Agency-by-agency
Next: The stimulus was small


Where was all of this interest in the budget in 2010?

Oh, tha's right. The Democrats decided not to even pass a budget in 2010.

All of a sudden (after they've spent like drunken sailors) the budget is important.

How nice.

Posted by: WrongfulDeath | February 14, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Winning a "Long Time Ago"

... in a galaxy far far away!


Posted by: chrisgaun | February 14, 2011 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Winning the "Long Time Ago"

... in a galaxy far far away!


Posted by: chrisgaun | February 14, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't think issues like military cuts, tax expenditures, etc. are necessarily off the table now just because the Administration left them out of their budget. I think the Administration soaked up just about all the non-defense discretionary spending they could, leaving the Republicans with the option of either 1) proposing such draconian cuts to non-defense discretionary spending that they look crazy, or 2) reaching some kind of compromise on entitlements, military spending, and tax expenditures. It seems to me that the White House is playing a game of deficit chicken with the Republicans. If they're serious about the deficit, they'll have to bring up specific cuts that won't be popular. If they're not serious then they'll have to pass something very similar to the White House's proposal, which will make President Obama look very bipartisan and reasonable.

Posted by: MosBen | February 14, 2011 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Writing as a huge fan, I have to say there is a bit of an elephant in the room: the news cycle. The blogging model gives you an opportunity to set a public agenda that is unexploited when you cover the same issues everyone else is chattering about.

Posted by: SamPenrose | February 15, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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