The Note: Searching For Light

"The actuary, Stephen Goss, wrote White House adviser Charles Blahous that the costs to Social Security of workers diverting some payroll taxes to their personal accounts will exceed the amounts by which the government would reduce payments from the accounts to retired workers or their survivors to offset the initial payroll-tax diversion. 'Annual cash-flow deficits (negative annual balances) appear in 2012, or six years earlier than under current law,' Mr. Goss wrote.

Will Democrats give the President credit for cutting the Pentagon procurement budget?

As crafty Shailagh Murray in the Wall Street Journal reports, Bolten's Budget is Bipartisan in its austerity.

"Many of the savings that Mr. Bush is proposing are recycled ideas included in budgets year after year to show a lower projected deficit, even though their enactment is doubtful. Mr. Bush proposed substantially cutting or eliminating 65 programs last year, for a total proposed saving of $4.9 billion, but Congress eliminated fewer than a half dozen of them, for a total saving of less than $200 million," the New York Times' Andrews and Rosenbaum report. LINK

More from the Los Angeles Times. LINK

And USA Today. LINK

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wades through the happy talk of the White House's budget briefing. LINK

FY 06 Budget: analysis and politics:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker writes that despite the cuts, war costs may make it difficult at best for the Bush Administration to cut the deficit. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook declares, "[t]he era of big government is back." Now it's just an argument over what kind of big government there should be. LINK

"Republicans' commitment to eliminating the deficit, a cornerstone of the Contract With America, also seems a thing of the past. Party members now argue that the deficit -- although it is a record in absolute numbers -- is manageable because, when measured as a share of the economy, it is not as large as Reagan's 1983 deficit."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman writes that despite all the fanfare and low-level panic about the President's budget, it's unlikely that members of Congress will sign on for all of the changes he's proposing. LINK

Writes Elisabeth Bumiller: ". . . some prominent conservatives said that the 2006 budget showed Mr. Bush to be a 'big-government conservative' who was not interested in limiting the size of Washington's bureaucracy and that the political reality was that many of the cuts to popular programs would be restored by Congress in the budget battles that are likely to rage on Capitol Hill for the rest of the year." LINK

More: "Although conservative critics have long annoyed the White House with complaints about what they call the president's free spending, economists said the administration was far more concerned about the effects of the deficit on foreign investment in the United States. The fear is that foreigners will grow less confident in investing in American capital markets, in part because of their concerns over the deficit. Those concerns could force the United States to increase interest rates to attract foreign investors, which could slow down American economic growth."

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