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First 100 days: Barack the knife

According to the Boston Globe, "[S]ome of the nation's top budget analysts plan to deliver a stark warning today at a White House summit that an even more foreboding long-term crisis will unfold unless Obama quickly fixes Social Security, healthcare, the tax code, and more. While the $787 billion stimulus plan relies on tax cuts and increased spending, the list of problems to be addressed at the "Fiscal Responsibility Summit" could result in a series of painful political decisions that might eventually include tax increases and cuts in government benefits."

The Wall Street Journal writes,  "Mr. Obama will promise that he can shrink that total to $533 billion, or 3% of GDP, by 2013, primarily through savings from withdrawing combat forces from Iraq and allowing George W. Bush's tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000 to lapse in 2011. The forecast for a sharp narrowing of the deficit will also rest on the assumption that the economy recovers from the current slump. The official declined to say how any additional spending on economic stimulus or bailouts of the financial or other sectors -- actions many economists consider inevitable -- would affect the upbeat deficit projection."

"Meet Barack the Knife," the New York Daily News writes. "Determined to slash the deficit from $1.3 trillion to $533 million in four years, President Obama will propose this week cuts across a wide range of the budget, sparing neither the Pentagon nor entitlement programs."

The Sunday New York Times added, "Measured against the size of the economy, the projected $533 billion shortfall for 2013 would mean a reduction from a deficit equal to more than 10 percent of the gross domestic product — larger than any deficit since World War II — to 3 percent, which is the level that economists generally consider sustainable. Mr. Obama will project deficits at about that level through 2019."

More: "Mr. Obama will inflate his challenge by forsaking several gimmicks that President Bush used to make deficits look smaller. He will include war costs in the budget; Mr. Bush did not, and instead sought supplemental money from Congress each year. Mr. Obama also will not count savings from laws that establish lower Medicare payments for doctors and expand the alternative minimum tax to hit more taxpayers — both of which Mr. Bush and Congress routinely took credit for, while knowing they would later waive the laws to raise doctors' payments and limit the reach of the tax."

Another New York Times piece: "President Obama is eager to seek a bipartisan solution to ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security, people who have spoken with him say, but he is running into opposition from his party's left and from Democratic Congressional leaders who contend that his political capital would be better spent on health care and other priorities. Mr. Obama considered announcing the formation of a Social Security task force at a White House 'fiscal responsibility summit' that he will convene on Monday. But several Democrats said that idea had been shelved, partly because of objections from House and Senate leaders."