At the outset of a White House fiscal summit attended by members of both parties, President Obama reiterated that he’s going to cut the deficit in half by the end of his (first) term, despite the massive spending now necessitated by the recession. He also promised that his budget processes will be radically different from those of his predecessor. He accused the Bush Administration of using tricks to mask budget shortfalls — for example, “budgeting zero dollars, zero, for the Iraq War,” and “budgeting no money for natural disasters.” He’s also going to eliminate “programs that don’t work” and “no-bid contracts in Iraq,” and “reinstate the pay-as-you-go rule” that he said led to a surplus under Clinton. “You don’t spend what you don’t have,” he added, presumably excepting the next year or two.
He earlier told a governor’s conference that $15 billion from the stimulus specified for state Medicaid programs will be fast-tracked, which must be a great relief to Governor Paterson. And the Times brings up the n-word — “nationalize” — as it reveals that the Fed and Treasury “might end up demanding a direct ownership stake in major banks” if their ongoing examinations find them otherwise unsustainable.