The federal budget, battleground

So much to say about Obama’s budget, the geek in me actually wants to read the entire plan, but I have this pesky dissertation to finish instead.

Budgets are inherently redistributive documents, in one direction or another. Obama’s proposal is being characterized as a bold effort to redistribute the benefits of the recovery to the middle-class. It may be that, at least in part, but that could mean a lot of different things to different people.

One sentence that caught my eye is that Obama has left out “any pretense of trying to address the main drivers of the long-term debt – Social Security and Medicare.” And that he has outlined an ambitious set of goals rather than remaining “hemmed in… because of politics and balance sheets.” I’m not entirely sure what the NYT is getting at (that fixation on “entitlement” programs and debt is responsible for the absence to date of bold budgetary goals? what’s changed?).

I look forward to these debates if indeed the (or any!) Democrats really stand up for the idea that government can do good, but that government has recently been redistributing wealth from the bottom and middle to the top. There’s a lot of deconstructing to do of the term “middle-class” and of “redistribution.” The government is always in the business of spreading wealth, the question is who wields the butter knife.

Read: In Budget, Obama’s Unfettered Case for Spreading the Wealth – NYTimes.com.