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Obama's Budget, Explained in One Chart

Posted by: Joshua Green on February 14, 2012

Infographic2.jpgPresident Obama’s budget, released yesterday, has come under attack from Republicans for all sorts of reasons. Two of the biggest ones are its proposed cuts to military spending — traditionally something Democrats have shied away from for fear of seeming weak and inviting Republican attacks — and its lack of any cuts to the major entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which are the biggest drivers of projected future deficits (mainly the first two).

These attacks are, for the most part, perfectly valid: Obama’s budget does (and does not) do all the things that Republicans are griping about. And it doesn’t do much to cut the deficit, which Republicans are griping about, too. But that doesn’t mean the budget will be unpopular with the general public. To the contrary, according to a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll out this morning, Obama’s budget ought to be wildly popular because it hews so closely to public desires about what should and should not be cut  in the interest of reducing the federal deficit.

In a nutshell, any politician looking to cut Social Security, Medicare, and — to a lesser extent — Medicaid does so at his or her own peril. On the other hand, poll respondents seemed perfectly willing to entertain cuts in military spending. All of this is nicely laid out in the chart above. 

Yet another complaint from Republicans is that Obama’s budget is a purely political document. That’s valid, too. But if this latest poll is any indication, it’s pretty good politics.

Reader Comments


February 14, 2012 5:25 PM

an embarrasment

David E. Connolly, Jr.

February 14, 2012 8:50 PM

We are going to need to scale back these two medical assistance programs quite a bit to get back on the track to solvency. We just as well cut back the military also: it ends up Osama Bin Laden wasn't in Iraq or Afghanistan. Bin Laden was where everyone said he was -in Pakistan- which is getting billions of dollars in taxpayer money every year just like Israel. With all we spend to defend this country our borders are not even secure, as upward of 20 million illegal aliens testifies to. The rich pay 80% of the taxes in this country but are consistently vilified by an administration who loves to spend their tax contributions. It is the regulators who are at fault for not reigning in the excesses which lead to the mortgage meltdown, and the politicians who consistently write in corporate welfare clauses into the tax code to reward big campaign donors. The wealthy are consistently greedy people which require channeling, lest their talents cause imbalance in the supply and capital system. Wealth concentration is a well known characteristic of capitalism, so we must be vigilante in making sure there is a level playing field for emerging ideas, talents, and businesses. It is tempting to turn a blind eye to monopolies because they are better equipped to handle outsized government backed corporations from overseas, particularly from Japan and China, but the anti trust laws were designed to give small and medium sized family businesses an opportunity to prosper and contribute to a healthy middle class, where opportunity lies.

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Led by Bloomberg Businessweek's Washington correspondent, "Joshua Green on Politics" is a blog devoted to national politics and public policy issues, from Congress to the 2012 Presidential campaign trail. A special focus will be the intersection of business and politics. Follow the author on Twitter (@JoshuaGreen). To book for television or radio appearances, call Patti Straus, 212-617-3279, or e-mail

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