A political tip sheet for the rest of us

AP News
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Posted: Feb 13, 2012 8:55 PM
A political tip sheet for the rest of us

A political tip sheet for the rest of us outside the Washington Beltway, Monday, Feb. 13, 2012:

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

OBAMA'S BUDGET. President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.8 trillion spending plan that seeks $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade. But the plan does little to restrain growth in the government's huge health benefit programs, a major cause of future deficits. That fact left the campaign-mode president open to charges of failing to sufficiently close the gap between how much the government spends and how much it collects in revenue. Obama had promised in 2009, his first year in office, to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.

REPUBLICAN REACTION: House Speaker John Boehner called the budget blueprint "a collection of rehashes, gimmicks and tax increases" that will worsen the economy. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell accused Obama of "shirking his responsibility to lead" and using the budget to divide. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney assailed the plan for failing to "take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis." Expect the debate over the budget to dominate the presidential and congressional elections.

ROMNEY'S SECRET BUNDLERS. It's been standard practice since George W. Bush's election in 2000 for presidential campaigns to identify their "bundlers," the people who collect thousands of dollars in individual campaign contributions and turn them over to the campaigns in huge sums. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has yet to name his bundlers. A spokeswoman said the campaign has released all of the information about its donors that is required by law. Obama's re-election campaign released its list last month, of more than 440 people who collected close to $75 million last year.

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS:

_ Size of Obama's spending proposal for 2013: $3.8 trillion.

_ Amount of deficit reduction he seeks over a decade: $4 trillion.

_ Amount of deficit reduction sough through tax increases on the wealthy: $1.5 trillion.

_ Deficit projection for 2012 budget year: $1.3 trillion, fourth straight year with a deficit above $1 trillion.

IN THEIR WORDS:

_ "This is not about class warfare. This is about the nation's welfare." _ Obama, on his proposal to achieve $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction through higher taxes on the wealthy and eliminating certain corporate tax breaks.

_"It's all about money." _ Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond, describing the former House speaker's upcoming week of fundraising.