Marc Andreesen Throws in the Towel on Weblog Comments
Captain Blythers, First Street, Benicia

John McKinnon Drops the Ball

I am told that the most interesting thing about the White House's attempt to start political maneuvering over the budget is the fact that its budget captain--Rob Portman--took a look at the strategy Cheneya nd Bush wanted him to execute, and bailed out to spend more time with his family. Yet somehow that doesn't make the cut:

White House Gears Up for Spending Fight: The White House has begun to lambaste Democrats over spending — a prelude to a showdown over the budget and congressional inaction. Democrats “are looking for opportunities for increasing taxes, looking for opportunities to increase spending, and... avoiding one of the key jobs of Congress, which is to get their work done on time,” spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters at today’s press briefing. “We saw this with immigration, and we’re seeing it with some other issues, where Congress is having an inability to take on major challenges.”

The White House is likely to further develop the themes of overspending and inaction in coming days. President Bush’s radio address on Saturday will mark the first meaningful shot in the assault. The president also is likely to touch on fiscal policy in a trip to Cleveland Tuesday. The growing price tag of a children’s health-care program is a particular concern for the White House, which also is angling to include more of its ideas for overhauling the health-care system in the proposed legislation.

The release of the mid-year revisions to the White House budget estimates on Wednesday will provide yet another opportunity to beat up on Congress. If nothing else, the ramped-up rhetoric on spending is likely to be music to conservatives, who’ve been disheartened by sizable deficits that have appeared under Bush, although the overall war on terrorism – including the Iraq invasion – has been a major factor.

But Democrats think the attacks will be ineffectual. They point to their plans to keep a tight lid on overall domestic discretionary spending. “I have no idea what all this carping about spending is all about,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Democrats also think the White House can be made to appear mean-spirited in the upcoming debate over the children’s health-care program.

A little in-line fact-checking on White House claims would have been in order as well. For the Post and the Times this would be an effort to applaud as a vast improvement over their standard fare. But the news pages of the Journal play in the big leagues: they can do better.