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