Friday, February 27, 2009

Long-term fiscal pressures and the first Obama budget

As Paul Krugman and David Brooks write today in the Times, the Obama budget doesn't come close to grappling with the long-term budget issues on the table. Public enemy number one is Medicare, and I agree that sounds odd and almost heartless.

Obama's director of the OMB is the able Peter Orszag, who as director of the Congressional Budget Office prior to joining the administration helped focus that bureau's public statements on the long-run sustainability of Medicare and other health care spending like Medicaid. As a scholar at Brookings prior to that, Orszag was similarly in the business of full-press academic responsibility vis-a-vis budget priorities.

You can't fault the President or any aides for not tackling those weighty issues right this second, in the middle of the largest recession since at least 1982. But as Krugman and Brooks remind us, there is plenty remaining on the table.