Zowie. "The projections show that discretionary spending, adjusted for inflation, would drop by 16 percent, or $65 billion a year, through 2010.Mr. Bush, who proposed cutting or eliminating scores of domestic programs in the budget he introduced this week, did not put forth any specific cuts then beyond 2006. But the White House projections define a path to keeping spending flat through 2010:" LINK
Also on 43rd Street, Floyd Norris is about as happy as his paper's editorial board about the budget. LINK
Paul Krugman wonders why a roll back of tax cuts isn't on the table, but when was the last time you heard a top elected Democrat make the same argument? LINK
And ask yourself to break the code: why aren't they?
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes that the Bush Administration is masterful at setting the terms of political debate, but in the end the proposed budget shows that cutting the deficit just isn't a priority. And offers "three hearty cheers" for his conservative friends on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page!!! LINK
The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman sat down yesterday with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who remains skeptical on the President's Social Security plan, saying that not only are voters unpersuaded, but the President needs to get Democrats on board if he wants to accomplish anything on the issue. Hastert said he's open to combining the Social Security overhaul with tax legislation, but declined to name the changes he's looking for, and predicted a possible long, hard slog on the agenda. LINK
The Washington Post's Michael Fletcher traveled to Pennsylvania and North Carolina on President Bush's Social Security tour yesterday, Noting that "Bush offered no plans to close the projected Social Security funding gap, other than to rule out tax increases. He mentioned several ideas, including an increase in the retirement age and cuts in promised benefits, saying he is open to discussing them with members of Congress. 'All ideas are on the table,' he said." LINK
As did the Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen, who Notes "Bush made a blatant appeal to lawmakers who are worried about taking on the politically sensitive issue: 'I believe that candidates are rewarded -- not punished -- for taking on tough issues. I say that to give assurance to the members of Congress who may feel somewhat fearful of taking on the issue.'" LINK
From David Sanger's write up of two town hall meetings: ":President Bush argued Thursday that unless major changes were made to Social Security, future benefits would be cut, payroll taxes would rise drastically or the country would incur 'massive debt' to save the system. But at stops in North Carolina and in this Philadelphia suburb, Mr. Bush steered clear of discussing the price tag of creating the personal accounts he advocates, which Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday could cost trillions of dollars in coming decades." LINK
"The president said he was open to any solutions 'except for running up payroll taxes,' and the White House said he would also reject raising the ceiling on income that can be taxed to finance Social Security, a limit currently set at $90,000."
ABC News' John Cochran reported last night on "World News Tonight" that raising the income subject to taxation was off the table for now, but White House officials hinted that they might be flexible in the future.