The Budget That Won't Be (But Still Matters)

This morning, President Obama officially proposed to Congress his FY 2012 budget. Marking the start of a year-long poker game, this is just an opening bid. Republicans will soon follow up within the next month or so their counter offer when the House votes on its FY 2012 budget resolution. Then the Senate will throw in its two cents (so to speak) and make its suggestion. Months later, actual spending bills will be offered, debated, negotiated, and adopted (though probably not on time) at the end of the year. In short, this is Genesis, not Revelation.

But although the president's budget won't be enacted as released and many of its provisions (e.g. "across-the-board 30 percent reduction in itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers") dismissed out of hand, it remains important in that it will be the touchstone for future spending and taxing battles in Congress. In fact, the House just unveiled an FY 2011 continuing resolution (CR) with $100 billion in cuts from Obama's FY 2011 proposal -- a budget that was never enacted.

With a House of Representatives that is eager to take hatchet to anything resembling federal spending, the spending cuts proposed by Obama in his budget will be just the beginning. For those hoping Obama would lead the way in enhancing or extending programs for those hardest hit by the Great Recession or augmenting the budgets of agencies charged with protecting the food supply, workers, consumers, and the environment, there's a lot to be concerned about.

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