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The budget: Something for everyone

Back to bargaining

WHEN negotiations over a grand bargain on America’s budget collapsed in December, Republican leaders vowed not to negotiate with Barack Obama again. But perhaps Mr Obama didn’t get the memo, because on April 10th he proposed a new budget crafted to lure Republicans back to the grand bargaining table.It includes many of the priorities of his first four budgets, from higher taxes on the rich to more spending on infrastructure, and one big new one: $66 billion in federal grants to states and local school districts to expand pre-school for four-year olds, paid for by higher taxes on cigarettes.More important, though, is that it includes the last offer Mr Obama made to John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, just before Mr Boehner broke off talks in December. That included cuts to entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, which provide pensions and health benefits to the elderly, traditional sacred cows of Democrats. “I don’t believe that all these ideas are optimal, but I’m willing to accept them as part of a compromise,” Mr Obama said.On March 1st, automatic spending cuts…

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