The White House has issued its budget for the coming year, and as usual it is already drawing complaints.

The $3.1 trillion package is the largest ever. Proposals calling for the permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are supposed to expire in 2010, are already drawing the ire of Democrats in Congress. The problem of the alternative minimum tax isn’t going away soon in the budget either, with only a one-year fix in place. The budget for fiscal year 2009 beginning Oct. 1 doesn’t make projections for AMT fixes in the years ahead.

Budgets are a yearly headache in Washington, and even more of a pain when there is a continuing struggle between Democrats and Republicans over the extent of tax cuts and AMT fixes. The competition over the economic stimulus plan could spill over into struggles in the year ahead over discretionary spending and entitlement programs. As the White House and Congress try to agree on an economic stimulus package that will work for the short term, the larger question of the budget is now looming as well. The two parties are quickly going to find themselves at loggerheads, magnified by the intensifying election season.

Once that season is over and a new president is elected, the budget priorities will shift no matter who comes into office. Whether the next occupant of the White House is going to be able to work more successfully with Congress on establishing tax policies and agreeing on budget priorities remains an open question at this point. But with several senators now in contention for the highest office in the land, perhaps they will be more open to compromise with their former colleagues on sorting out the spending and budgeting priorities that will keep the deficit from spiraling further out of control.


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