President Obama's budget plan, which he delivers to Congress today, attempts to balance a broad spending program with a commitment to slash the deficit in half by the end of his first term. It calls for tax increases on the wealthy and spending cuts to fund a "down payment" on a huge expansion of health care. It also makes permanent middle-class tax cuts introduced in this month's stimulus package, paid for by a cap-and-trade system that will force companies to pay to pollute.
As the Washington Post reports, Obama pledged to "restore honesty and accountability" to the budget process, and sources in Congress and watchdogs say the document is cleaner than in past years. But there are still some time-worn workarounds; for example, it lists "savings" of $170 billion annually by ending the Iraq war, whose cost would inevitably go down.