While news outlets don't just invent numbers on the budget, it would not be much of a change for the worse if they did. The news stories that we saw following the release of President Obama's budget followed the same practice we have seen in budget stories for decades. They threw very large numbers at readers that no one understands.
The President's annual budget demonstrates whether our values are driving our national choices. Are we going to continue to give extra tax breaks worth billions to hot shots in the finance industry or re-direct tax help to decrease the poverty of more than 13 million workers?
The president wants to provide pre-kindergarten to every student and expand the existing Head Start program, which provides early childhood education to low-income families. The budget proposal would dedicate $66 billion over 10 years to this initiative.
It's of course tempting to decry the president's budget as "dead on arrival" but I wouldn't be nearly so quick to go there. Here are a number of ways that some of the ideas that the administration trotted out Tuesday will be referenced in months and even years to come.
President Obama's new budget is a solid blueprint that would reduce deficits, alleviate poverty, and boost investment in areas needed for future economic growth, such as infrastructure, education, and research.
As costs for our nation grow, there are areas where we can cut spending. The first place we should start is with our unnecessary and expensive spending on nuclear weapons that are more suited for the Cold War than the strategic challenges we face today.
Last week, progressive groups won a huge victory when the White House announced the chained CPI Social Security cut will be not be in President Obama'...
What is most conspicuous about these early glimpses of the budget is what we don't see in it. A true "post-austerity" budget would pivot to bold action on the crises that are still gripping so many millions of Americans.
The White House has confirmed that President Obama won't include the "chained CPI" (a formula for reducing cost-of-living adjustments in Social Security benefits) in his 2015 budget. It's clear that it was a political calculus that prompted this step today -- but we have to be vigilant and prepared for a renewed battle over the chained CPI in the near future.
We have truly reached a tipping point. Recurrently Americans have joined together in a populist movement to advance the interests of "the people" against "the elite." Today, after many years of struggle, that new populist movement is rising to defend and expand Social Security. And the politicians had better lead or get out of the way.
Unlike recent budgets, this one will not include the recommendation to switch to the chained CPI. Past budgets included savings generated by this change, which would lead to slower rising benefits in programs indexed to prices, most notably Social Security.
Will he or won't he reprise the "chained CPI" cut to Social Security that he proposed in last year's budget? Nobody on his team is talking. The answer to that question could determine the financial fate of millions of Americans -- and the political fate of the president's party.
The discretionary civilian budget -- the part that looks after your and your children's future other than social security, health, and emergency support -- is disappearing. What about America's future scientific and technological leadership? What about America's role in fighting climate change and promoting clean energy through new R&D? Forget about it.
It is imperative, therefore, for the president to put an end to this, and the only way to really do that is by calling the opposition's bluff. There are several reasons why a government shutdown would actually work in Obama's favor.
It's been a very bad week for the merchants of austerity. In Europe, the just-released statistics on first quarter performance show EU nations sliding deeper into recession. In Spain and Greece, unemployment rates are approaching a staggering 30 percent. In Britain, the Tory government took as good news the fact that the UK managed to eke out 0.3 percent growth. Even Germany, the prime sponsor of these policies, is on the edge of recession. You don't promote growth by slashing demand. Supposedly, fiscal tightening improves business confidence. But if some entrepreneur somewhere decided to break ground for a new factory because the president and Congress at last cut the budget, nobody could find such a person. Even the Washington Post editorial page, which has long been promoting a budget bargain built on more cuts, warned in its lead Sunday editorial, that austerity is pinching too hard -- in Europe, that is. How about at home?
President Obama's new budget attempts to define a progressive alternative to conservative demands for a politics of austerity. European progressives are wrestling with the same challenge, and are reaching similar conclusions.