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Obama agenda: Budget day

“President Obama sent Congress a $3.7 trillion budget plan for 2012 Monday that would trim Pell college grants and low-income heating aid, raise taxes on upper-income taxpayers and oil companies, and slash $1.1 trillion from the deficit over 10 years,” USA Today reports.

The Washington Post: "Although the budget request offers an important glimpse of the president's priorities - his first since Republicans regained control of the House in November - it is unlikely to have much influence in the budget debate on Capitol Hill. House Republicans plan to offer their own spending proposal for fiscal 2012, after attempting to push through sharp and immediate cuts to spending this year."

“President Obama’s budget will be dramatically different than his previous ones,” The Hill writes. “Liberals are already wincing, and congressional Democrats will oppose many of the president’s demands. Obama’s presidency has reached a watershed. Despite administration denials, it is widely agreed that Republican triumph in November’s election have spurred Obama to march right into centrist territory, especially on fiscal issues. Today’s budget is intended to suggest a business-friendly executive attacking a crippling deficit. Most Democrats backed Obama’s previous budgets. This year, the left will rip him for excessive cuts, while the right will claim he hasn’t gone far enough.”

The New York Times says, “With the budget he is to unveil Monday, President Obama has not opted for the bold, comprehensive approach to reining in the fast-growing federal debt that his own fiscal commission has said is needed, now. That decision partly reflects Mr. Obama’s characteristic caution, but also a White House calculation: that ‘now’ is too soon for the nation’s political system. And that boldness could backfire — wounding not just a president facing re-election next year but also the prospects for bipartisan agreement on the very tax and spending-cut proposals that all sides realize are needed to truly stem the projected red ink in a nation confronting high health care costs and an aging population.”

Politico’s Rogers adds: “After November’s election results, no one assumes this is sufficient, but more than any of Obama’s prior efforts, this budget makes choices that help define the man himself. He bets big on education spending — an 11 percent increase next year — while altering the Pell Grant program to try to save the aid levels now allowed for college students from the poorest families. The National Institutes of Health would grow by about $1 billion, even as old anti-poverty programs and heating assistance would be cut. And $62 billion in Medicare savings would be plowed back into paying physicians who care for the elderly.”

More: "The numbers read less like a budget than a soldier deciding what he must carry and what will weigh him down too much when he jumps into a hot landing zone."

The New York Daily News: “For 2012, the administration sees the imbalance declining to $1.1 trillion, giving the country a record four straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits.”