The First Draft: Budget Day
The Obama administration’s first budget doesn’t officially come out until late morning — but somehow some unnamed senior government officials managed to divulge the basic size and shape of the thing. The big numbers are really big this time: the 2009 deficit forecast is $1.75 trillion, with a T. That’s 12.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, the largest share since World War II.
The new White House team has pledged to cut in half the more than $1 trillion deficit they inherited from the Bush administration by 2012. They say they’ll do that by cutting spending on farm subsidies and other areas. There will also be a 10-year, $634 billion reserve fund to help pay for healthcare reforms.
But there should be hundreds of billions of dollars of revenues starting in 2012 and going forward for years from a cap-and-trade system meant to reduce climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
For those outside the Beltway, Budget Day is just a day on the calendar. In Washington DC, it’s a day for keeping score and figuring out who wins and who loses in the proposed financial picture.
Before the official release, there was gloomy news from the Commerce Department. New U.S. orders for durable goods fell for a sixth month in a row, to the lowest level is six years.
President Barack Obama makes his first comments on the budget more than an hour before it’s official release at 11 a.m. EST. At that time, Peter Orszag, the chief of the White House Office of Management and Budget, briefs the media, with other briefings on health and defense spending.
Photo credit: REUTERS/Lee Jae Won (Bank employee counts hundred-dollar bills in Seoul, South Korea, February 26, 2009)