POLITICS

When ‘balance’ doesn’t mean ‘balanced’

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Brian Hughes

The White House had a clear goal Tuesday: Framing Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan as a handout to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

That’s why White House Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly called for “balance,” saying President Obama preferred a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to make a dent in chronic deficits. In contrast, Ryan’s plan relies on more substantial cuts to entitlement programs than those hinted at by the president.

But using balance as a buzzword may have been a poor choice for the White House.

Though Obama wants balance, he doesn’t insist upon a balanced budget, Obama’s spokesman said. Carney called such a goal “worthy” but not essential, instead pushing for reducing the ratio of debt to GDP.

Republicans immediately seized on the world play.

“This has been a really interesting and instructive briefing,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said on Twitter.  “Takeaway: This president has zero interest whatsoever in balancing the budget.”

Though it won’t be balanced, the White House finally admitted Tuesday that Obama would release his budget the week of April 8 — putting an end to the worst kept secret in Washington. Obama will miss the legal deadline to present his budget by more than two months.

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