With his first budget, Barack Obama has presented a program of stunning cost and complexity that underlines his ambition to transform the United States, writes Dan Balz in the Washington Post. Its $600-billion-plus health package, taxes on the wealthy that exceed campaign rhetoric, and shocking $1.75 trillion deficit show that the president "has chosen an all-in strategy"—and banked the future of his presidency on its success.
Only a few presidents—FDR, LBJ, and Reagan in modern times—have tried to undertake such a wholesale reinvention of the country's economic framework, and Obama's advisers believe the extraordinary circumstances merit a similar effort. But while the president's oratorical skills carried him into the Senate and the White House, passing a budget with such eye-popping figures requires another kind of leadership. For Balz, "there will be as much trench warfare as high-flying rhetoric to turn his program into law."