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First 100 days: Reaction to the budget

The Wall Street Journal on Obama's budget:  "President Barack Obama delivered a $3.6 trillion budget blueprint to Congress Thursday that aims to 'break from a troubled past,' with expanded government activism, tax increases on affluent families and businesses, and spending cuts targeted at those he says profited from 'an era of profound irresponsibility The budget blueprint for fiscal year 2010 is one of the most ambitious policy prescriptions in decades, a reordering of the federal government to provide national health care, shift the energy economy away from oil and gas, and boost the federal commitment to education."

The Los Angeles Times: "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." 

The Washington Post's Balz adds, "President Obama's first budget -- with its eye-popping $1.75 trillion deficit, a health-care fund of more than $600 billion, a $150 billion energy package and proposals to tax wealthy Americans even beyond what he talked about during his campaign -- underscores the breadth of his aspiration to reverse three decades of conservative governance and use his presidency to rapidly transform the country." 

But John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times notes the constraints that Obama's budget faces. "He is asking Congress to take on a wide-ranging set of complicated issues all at once, after years during which it had trouble grappling directly with almost any of them. His own party remains seared by the last time it followed a new Democratic president on a course of tax increases and ambitious social engineering. Interest groups, while demonized by the White House, have hardly fled from Washington and are already mobilizing for battles that could have big winners and losers."

Paul Krugman, who normally is Mr. Cranky when it comes to anything Obama, leads: "Obama's new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course."

Here's a headline that sums up the budget debate pretty well: "Obama budget gives Dems a roadmap and GOP a target." 
 
Case in point, here's how the New York Post frames it... Its cover reprises the GOP image of Obama as Uncle Sam in top hat and coat with the screaming headline, "Pay up America." The subheadline: $1 trillion tax hike to sting for a decade." And the upper right corner: "Obama's big, bad budget."

Roll Call says Obama's budget drew "predictable cheers and jeers." 
 
Meanwhile, only about 70 people have been formally nominated to fill the roughly 500 senior posts in the Defense, State, Treasury, and Education departments and dozens of other government agencies, according to White House records," the Boston Globe says. "Dozens of nominations are still pending as FBI and White House officials scrub potential nominees' tax returns, financial ties, and former activities in government. It is not unusual for a new administration to take several months to fill political slots, but the absence of senior officials has been felt more keenly under Obama, who is vowing to quickly disburse a $787 billion stimulus package, revamp education and healthcare, and tackle two ongoing wars."
 
The slow go apparently has to do with the administration tightening up the vetting.

One key vacancy at Justice got closer to being filled yesterday, as David Ogden was confirmed by the Judiciary Committee as deputy attorney general, but not before a battle was waged by Christian conservatives opposing him because of his past legal representation of Playboy and others. Five Republicans, including Sen. Orrin Hatch wound up voting against Ogden. Arlen Specter, who voted for Ogden, told NPR he had never seen so much mail and e-mail from voters opposing someone. Specter made the distinction that personal views and legal representation are two different things. AP wrote earlier this month: "While a private attorney, Ogden argued on behalf of Playboy and librarians fighting congressionally mandated Internet filtering software."
 
But conservative blogs lit up with headlines like "Obama nominates porn-lover for deputy attorney general," "Obama Picks Porn Lawyer for #2 at Justice," "Porn Companies Back David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General," and even "Child Porn Defender = Deputy Attorney General of the United States?"