Obama's Budget Projects Ten Years Out

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President Obama first budget, to be revealed in outline form later this week is based on ten years' worth of economic projects, not the usual five, according to a senior administration official.

In an effort to trim the weeds that usually surround such document, the budget as written provides full project cost for Iraq and Afghanistan; it assumes the cost of fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax each year; it does not assume that physician payments for Medicare will be cut, because Congress regularly blocks the planned cuts. (Note: the budget will include program cuts to Medicare Advantage, but they are not factored in.)  The budget also recognizes the likelihood of natural disasters instead of assuming that the heavens won't fall for another decade.

"Pretending that the budget has this money available may be gratifying, but it's an accounting sleight-of-hand, not reality," said Jennifer Psaki, an administration spokesperson.

Officials say that gimmick budgeting would have given them $250 billion per year in breathing room: past budgets have included AMT fixes for one year; the Obama budget includes them in all years.  The budget assumes not a zero budget for what are euphemistically termed "oversees military contingencies," but full funding over 10 years.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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