Read The Atlantic's first take on the president's 2012 budget here.
The president's 2012 budget, which aims to create $1.1 trillion in savings over ten years, isn't really a budget.
A budget, as defined by the dictionary, is an estimate of future expenses. But the White House can't produce an estimate of 2012 spending because appropriations will be determined by a bitterly divided Congress with a Republican House and Democratic Senate. As a result, 2012 spending might look nothing like the document they published this morning. It's best to think of this plan as an opening argument or a statement of purpose. This is the president's chance to say: I might not get what I want, but here's what I want, anyway.
So what does the budget say about the president? Here's the number one takeaway I see: The White House scooped up President Clinton's budget director, and then it scooped up President Clinton's budget slogan. This is a cut-and-invest budget. But the same way a spork makes a incomplete fork and an ineffectual spoon, this compromise budget provides for both incomplete investment and ineffectual deficit reduction.
To maintain a record increase in Pell grants to students, the budget cuts grants for summer school and accelerates interest payments for graduate students. To make room for a new infrastructure bank and clean energy research, the budget eliminates tax breaks for oil and gas companies. On top of that, the budget freezes non-security discretionary spending for five years and federal salaries for two years. Defense gets a relatively light shaving -- $78 billion in cuts over 10 years, or $8 billion a year from a $700 billion budget.