Obama: Nah, my budget won't balance

George Stephanopoulos got a rare sit-down with President Obama today:

President Barack Obama will go one-on-one with George Stephanopoulos, anchor of “Good Morning America” and “This Week,” in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, March 12. The interview comes as President Obama is initiating conversations with Republican lawmakers to help avert another budget showdown later this month. Last week the President hosted a dinner with 12 Republican lawmakers, a lunch with House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the committee’s ranking Democrat. This week he is expected to continue courting lawmakers by traveling to Capitol Hill to meet with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

We now know at least one thing about Obama’s budget, which, unlike Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, is nonexistent:

“Paul Ryan, today, put forward his budget,” says ABC, “and he says, he’s challenging you to come forward with a budget that also reaches balance. Are you going to do that?”

“No,” Obama says. “My goal is not chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”

No kiddin’, Mr. President. I was under the impression “balance” was the most important quality known to mankind. It’s apparently also not the president’s goal to chase a budget that’s released on time and gets at least one vote in Congress, just for the sake of doing the barest minimum.

E.M. Zanotti enlightens us further on the president’s invisible budget. Is there no end to his wonders? (And, if you’re not reading Naked DC regularly, start!)

At any rate, the White House has obviously responded, first by characterizing Paul Ryan as a mean old meanie who wants poor people to starve and die in the streets so that he can stack them and use them as his own personal sidewalk, and then by trumpeting their own 2014 budget, which was authored by the very breath of the savior of mankind and his cadre of economic geniuses carefully selected from throughout history.

While the House Republican budget aims to reduce the deficit, the math just doesn’t add up. Deficit reduction that asks nothing from the wealthiest Americans has serious consequences for the middle class…

That’s why the President has put forward a balanced approach to deficit reduction with no sacred cows. It includes more Medicare savings over the next decade than the House Republican budget, but it does so by cracking down on waste and fraud, not by asking middle class seniors to bear the burden. It closes tax loopholes for the wealthiest and biggest corporations so we can still afford to create jobs by investing in education, manufacturing, infrastructure, and small businesses. The President’s plan puts our nation on a fiscally sustainable path and grows our economy from the middle class out.

It is also invisible.

Because, as it turns out, the White House has not released a 2014 budget (note the use of the words “plan” and “approach”). The last budget it released was for 2013, and that was kind of a stinker in the sense that no one actually voted for it – not even Democrats. Probably because it also happened to be a carbon copy of previous budgets that were released and that no one voted for. Because – and this is key – despite what the White House think is in there, it’s pretty much just a mess.

As for Senate Democrats, they will finally, after four years present an actual budget. Only because they can’t get paid if they don’t, but hey, progress. It will reportedly add $1 trillion in new taxes and only manage to fake $800 billion in reductions over 10 years. Don’t expect much, says Phil Klein:

Unfortunately, according to the National Journal, Senate Budget Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray’s budget is “expected to offer only broad outlines of many of the (Democratic) party’s usual talking points.” According to the report, Murray’s budget will raise taxes, call for more economic stimulus spending, largely ignore reforms to entitlements, undo automatic spending cuts (i.e. sequestration) and rely on phony savings such as winding down the war in Afghanistan (as if the nation would otherwise be at full strength in Afghanistan for the next decade).

So, after four years of avoidance, Senate Democrats are finally putting out a document called a “budget.” But it’s unlikely to represent a serious attempt to get the nation’s debt problem under control.

They won’t even let Republicans see this long-awaited document before mark-up, which I’m assuming means there’s not likely to be a press conference in which they’d have to field actual questions about the contents thereof. Courage.

More from Obama’s interview as it becomes available.