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Obama's Big Budget Push

By Dan Froomkin
12:25 PM ET, 03/24/2009

The next few weeks could be make or break for Obama's daring budget plan.

Lori Montgomery writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama will go to Capitol Hill this week to try to persuade skeptical Senate Democrats to support the administration's first budget request after an analysis showed that the spending plan would drive the nation deeply into debt over the next decade."

Andrew Taylor writes for the Associated Press: "Obama's $3.6 trillion budget faces its first tests on Capitol Hill this week, where a leading lawmaker wants to cut as much as $30 billion from agency budgets while promising to protect initiatives like energy, education and health care....

"Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is preparing to sharply cut Obama's 11 percent increase for non-defense appropriations to perhaps 6 percent. But he's running into opposition from other powerful Democrats like Sens. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Patty Murray of Washington. In the House, moderate 'Blue Dog' Democrats are pressing for even deeper cuts."

The budget plan is also "taking a drubbing from Republicans over its spending and tax increases as well as a global warming plan that would impose higher energy costs on consumers and businesses."

So how are grassroots efforts going so far?

David Lightman and William Douglas write for McClatchy Newspapers: "President Barack Obama's army of canvassers fanned out across the nation over the weekend to drum up support for his $3.55 trillion budget, but they had no noticeable impact on members of Congress, who on Monday said they were largely unaware of the effort....

"Over the weekend, Obama supporters knocked on an estimated 1 million doors in all 50 states. Canvassers asked people to sign a two-point pledge saying that they support Obama's 'bold approach for renewing America's economy,' and that they'll ask family, friends and neighbors to back it.....

"The group Obama most needs to lobby this week are the approximately 51 conservative-to-moderate Democrats in the House of Representatives and the 16 in the Senate. Their numbers are big enough in both chambers to deny the president the majorities he needs to win budget approval, assuming near-unanimous Republican opposition as well....

"Blue Dogs were careful not to criticize Obama, but said they've felt little pressure from the canvassing."

Meanwhile, with a little context, Stan Collender writes in his Roll Call column: "Contrary to what some are currently saying, a budget resolution that doesn't move in lock step with the administration's budget means the Congressional budget process is working and not that there are troubles in political paradise....

"[A]fter years of doing whatever the Bush administration wanted, the House and Senate are acting on their own now, rather than as part of the White House's government affairs team....

"At least on the budget, this is, in fact, what's supposed to happen."

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