I’ll chime in with a broader analysis of the new Bush budget later. For now, it’s worth noting one of the big questions it raises: What’s so special about 2012?
That’s the year the president claims the budget can be balanced while simultaneously renewing the Bush tax cuts. It’s also three fiscal years after Bush leaves office.
What the president could have done is propose a plan to balance the budget in two years. Revenues are on the upswing, so it could be accomplished — assuming you cut spending, that is.
For a president who is, according to insiders, interested in bequeathing a healthy Republican Party to the 2008 presidential candidate, it seems there would be great value in simultaneously handing them a balanced federal budget while also showing voters there is still some inkling of interest in smaller government within the party. And it would eliminate the Democrats’ ability to use the deficit bogeyman as a reason to kill the Bush tax cuts that expire in 2010.
Instead, President Bush resorted to increasing spending in almost all categories — in some cases, like the Pentagon budget, massively. It’s not a budget that supporters of small government can really sink their teeth into. It is weak sauce indeed.