Obama's Budget

OBAMA'S BUDGET....Peter Nicholas has a front page story in the LA Times today about Barack Obama's budget plans and how they probably don't add up. Fair enough — though the timing is a little odd given the A9 treatment meted out to John McCain's fantastical budget blather from yesterday. I suppose his turn will come eventually.

But despite the story's headline ("Obama's agenda may not add up"), here's what surprised me once I read down to the meat of the story: his agenda actually does come pretty close to adding up. It's really not normal for a candidate's budget numbers to be even in the near ballpark of making sense, but by the Times' own reckoning (chart here) Obama is proposing $130 billion in new spending if every single one of his priorities is signed into law, and probably two-thirds of that is credibly accounted for by rolling back some of the Bush tax cuts, withdrawing from Iraq, auctioning emission credits, and a few other things. So even in the unlikely event that Obama gets every single thing he wants, he'd only be adding a net of $30-40 billion to the federal budget.

So, sure, that means it doesn't add up. But when was the last time we had a presidential candidate who came even that close? Hell, I think McCain's plan, if you put a number to it, would fail to add up by about ten times that amount. Obama's is the most restrained, least pandering budget plan we've seen in a presidential campaign for a very long time.

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