Discuss as:

Obama agenda: Breaking down yesterday's speech

The Washington Post’s Dan Balz writes, “Obama’s address left many questions unanswered, but there was no doubt that the president and his White House advisers regarded it as one of the most important political speeches he will make in his second two years in office. It was an effort to regain the offensive in a debate that will dominate budget negotiations for the rest of this year and will probably shape the choices voters will face in the 2012 presidential election.”

“President Barack Obama asked Congress to adopt a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts to tame the nation's long-term budget deficits, in a combative speech that portrayed Republicans as backing ‘tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires’ while demanding sacrifice from the nation's seniors, poor and the middle class,” the Wall Street Journal adds.

The New York Times: "In a sign of the tensions the plan may cause within the administration, officials at the Pentagon said Mr. Gates was not told of Mr. Obama’s proposal until Tuesday. In a statement, a Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said that 'further significant defense cuts' would reduce the military’s capability. 'It is important that any reduction in funding be shaped by strategy and policy choices, and not be a budget math exercise,' Mr. Morrell said."

Time magazine's Joe Klein: The strongest section of the President's speech was a history lesson. We didn't have a significant deficit problem 10 years ago. We had a budget surplus. We did have the long-term question of how to pay for the baby boomers' old-age benefits, but that was, and is, a manageable problem. The "crisis" we face was visited upon us by the very people now screaming loudest about the budget deficit. Republicans, colleagues of Paul Ryan's, voted for the Bush tax cuts — which, as Obama noted, added $500 billion per year to the deficit — and they also voted for the (unpaid for) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a massive (unpaid for) Medicare prescription-drug benefit.

The Boston Globe’s take: “The president had asked Ryan to attend the speech at George Washington University. But at the end of the address, the chairman of the House Budget Committee left frustrated by the details of Obama’s plan and the tone of his words. ‘When the president reached out to ask us to attend his speech, we were expecting an olive branch,’ Ryan said in a statement. ‘Instead, his speech was excessively partisan, dramatically inaccurate, and hopelessly inadequate to address our fiscal crisis.’”

Here’s a helpful graphic based on AP comparing Obama’s plan to Ryan’s.

Roll Call: “Obama’s proposal merely sets an opening bid for negotiations with the GOP over the next two months.”