Paul Krugman is almost giddy about the Obama Administration’s first budget. Money for healthcare reform! Money for climate change! Woo-HOO!
And these new priorities are laid out in a document whose clarity and plausibility seem almost incredible to those of us who grew accustomed to reading Bush-era budgets, which insulted our intelligence on every page. This is budgeting we can believe in.
For a review of some of the atrocities of Bush Administration budgeting, see “Bust This Budget,” February 2008.
And get this:
Many will ask whether Mr. Obama can actually pull off the deficit reduction he promises. Can he actually reduce the red ink from $1.75 trillion this year to less than a third as much in 2013? Yes, he can.
A New York Times headline, “A Bold Plan Sweeps Away Reagan Ideas.” David Leonhardt writes,
The budget that President Obama proposed on Thursday is nothing less than an attempt to end a three-decade era of economic policy dominated by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and his supporters.
The Obama budget â€” a bold, even radical departure from recent history, wrapped in bureaucratic formality and statistical tables â€” would sharply raise taxes on the rich, beyond where Bill Clinton had raised them. It would reduce taxes for everyone else, to a lower point than they were under either Mr. Clinton or George W. Bush. And it would lay the groundwork for sweeping changes in health care and education, among other areas.
More than anything else, the proposals seek to reverse the rapid increase in economic inequality over the last 30 years. They do so first by rewriting the tax code and, over the longer term, by trying to solve some big causes of the middle-class income slowdown, like high medical costs and slowing educational gains.
Headline in the Los Angeles Times: “Obama’s budget is the end of an era.”
Reporting from Washington — Not since Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin D. Roosevelt has a president moved to expand the role of government so much on so many fronts — and with such a demanding sense of urgency. …
… Even more stark than the breadth and scale of Obama’s proposals was his determination to break with the conservative principles that have dominated national politics and policymaking since Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980.
The 142-page proposal laid out a sweeping, ambitious agenda for the future: Obama would raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for healthcare for the uninsured; cap pollution emissions; put billions more dollars into infrastructure and new technology, building on the money in the massive economic stimulus program Obama already pushed through Congress; invest in new education programs; and roll back the U.S. troop presence in Iraq and, more slowly, Afghanistan. There were proposals to save money by modernizing the healthcare system, only paying for treatments that are proven to work, and by eliminating federal farm subsidies to the biggest and wealthiest recipients, mostly agribusiness interests. This is not, in other words, George W. Bush’s budget.
Congress — pass it, and let’s get on with healing our country.