The Note: Budgeting Time

Thursday, Bill Clinton and John Kerry headline a thank-you dinner for DNC chair Terry McAuliffe. And the Democratic National Committee begins three days of meeting, culminating Saturday with the expected election of Howard Dean to be DNC chair.

On Friday, President Bush spends the day in Washington, swearing in his new HHS Secretary Mike Johanns and then peaking at a performance of "Lincoln: Seen and Heard." We presume he will not mention the recent scholarly controversy over Mr. Lincoln's intimate ways, but you never know.

On Saturday, the National Religious Broadcasters convention meets in Anaheim, Calif.

Budget '06: overview:

The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Peter Baker offer up a day-of curtain-raiser for President Bush's budget, Noting that 150 programs would be cut or eliminated, foreshadowing a tough fight from Congress, and that money for neither Iraq and Afghanistan nor the Social Security plan are included. LINK

In the same paper, John Harris looks at the return of deficit politics to public debate. LINK

On Sunday, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman curtain-raised the fights forthcoming between the President and Congress over domestic programs. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's White House team digs in to the rationales for some of the budget cuts, including the Administration's insistence that government programs, well, work. And this final paragraph does not sound overwhelmingly optimistic: "Administration aides say they believe that because of the deficit and an increase in the number of conservatives in Congress the mood on Capitol Hill is changing, and more lawmakers are willing to vote against certain programs."

The New York Times' Edmund Andrews on how difficult it will be to cut the deficit in half over five years. LINK

Budget '06: line items:

Reports Scott Kilman in the Wall Street Journal: "The Bush administration wants to cut federal payments to the nation's biggest farms to help trim agriculture subsidies by $5.74 billion over the next 10 years."

The Washington Post's Paul Bluestein on Sunday looked at the boost in foreign aid in the budget -- $9.5 billion for humanitarian and development ventures, and doubling the spending by the Millennium Challenge Corp., which directs aid to poor countries. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck has a must-read front-pager on Medicaid's, well, crisis.

"Forty years ago, Congress, as an afterthought to the Medicare program for the elderly, created Medicaid to help pay for the medical needs of about four million low-income people. Today, the program covers 53 million people -- nearly one in every six Americans -- and costs $300 billion a year in federal and state funds, recently surpassing spending on the federal Medicare program. In some states, Medicaid accounts for one-third of the budget."

"The benefits offered by Medicaid have steadily expanded over the decades. The program now pays for 60% of the nation's nursing-home bill. It covers eight million disabled people and 25 million children. At many hospitals that cater to indigent people, Medicaid accounts for more than 40% of the revenue."

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