Obama Budget Plays it Safe, Irrelevant


It's customary for congressional leaders to dismiss a president's budget proposal out of hand the moment it rolls out of the Government Printing Office, but President Obama's 2012 spending plan was condemned even faster than usual - on all sides.

The $3.7-trillion budget  would slash spending on the Enviornmental Protection Agency, heating assistance for the poor and a host of social programs, even dent the Pentagon budget. But Obama makes no proposals to address the big drivers of the ever-growing national debt: the entitlement programs of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Republicans in the House are already pursuing deeper cuts in the current year's budget, which has been patched together in a series of temporary "continuing resolutions," the latest of which expires March 4.

Obama, for instance, wants to cut $350 million from community-development grants beginning later this year. Republicans are gunning for six times as much, starting right away.

Even some Democrats were disappointed that the Obama administration's budget was not bolder on debt. "We need a much more robust package of deficit and debt reduction," said Sen. Kent Conrad (D.,ND), who was a member of the bipartisan fiscal commission that recently recommended changes to slow the growth of entitlement spending.

But Republican leaders have not addressed Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or defense in their package of cuts. They would not say what their plans are in regard to those items, which together comprise about 88 percent of federal spending.