In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama focused on the economy and the importance of federal spending on areas that will create long-term economic growth, such as education, energy, technology and infrastructure. But in an era of huge federal deficits and long-term debt, it’s unclear whether the president’s vision for the nation realistically accounts for the need to address the federal fiscal crisis. This contradiction will likely complicate the approval of the president’s budget plan for fiscal year 2012, which has already been delayed. And it puts a focus on reforming the budget process itself—perhaps with pay-as-you-go rules, caps on entitlements or longer-term budget resolutions.
On Wednesday, February 9, former congressman William Frenzel, a Brookings budget expert, participated in a live web chat on the federal budget. David Mark, senior editor at POLITICO, moderated the discussion.