1. Stan Collender rejoices at how much easier life is now that the president's budget is released electronically. He's actually one of the wonks that spends time sifting through it, in which case the difference must be unimaginable. I never had to do that work, but I can sympathize as well. I always used to have to go over to the Old Executive Office Building (which Mark Twain once called the ugliest building in America) to pick up Bob Reischauer (president of the Urban Institute's) reserved copy of the five (thick) volume books. Now he can just download it :)
2. Matt Yglesias points out how surreal the media's reaction to Congressional math is. In 2009-2010, Democratic bills in the House that couldn't get past a Republican filibuster weren't considered important news. Democratic relevance was measured by the stark reality of the Republican minority in the Senate. Today, however, House Republicans are lauded as a force to be reckoned with and a new reality in Washington. Is there position any stronger or more mandate-backed than the Democrats in 2009-2010? No. In fact, they're in a weaker, and less popularly backed position with a much smaller chance of doing much of anything. But the media lionizes them. I try not to be too plugged into the political world in this city, but sometimes if you didn't live here I think you'd start to mix up who is in power and who has what mandate, the way the media reports it.
3. Finally, whenever anyone in this town breathes a word about the budget, really the only discussion at hand is a discussion about Medicare and Social Security. That's what "the budget" means in Washington. Politicians may not want to do anything about it, but that's what the policy people talk about when they talk about the budget. I think in a lot of the country "federal entitlements" sound like welfare-queen doles. But in Washington "entitlement" has a very specific meaning - it's the collection of guaranteed social insurance programs but essentially "entitlement" means Medicare and Social Security. Matt Yglesias reports, however, that 44.1% of Social Security recipients and 39.8% of Medicare recipients say they haven't received any government social programs!!!! Unbelievable! If you keep the share of recipients who've received nothing but Social Security and Medicare (i.e. - take out the people that have received food stamps and Social Security and are only thinking of their food stamps when they respond that they've participated in a government program), I wouldn't be surprised if that constitutes a majority. This thing that is the centerpiece of worries in Washington isn't even directly associated with government social policy by many recipients!
The Liquidationist Urge
44 minutes ago