• The Obama administration unveiled its budget proposal this morning, which includes a significant down payment for universal health care coverage, and increased spending for energy and education, paid for in part (the deficit will run $1.75 trillion for FY09) by a tax increase on families earning more than $250,000 (expiration of the Bush tax cuts), taxing carbon emissions and the eventual draw down of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. General defense spending will actually increase four percent and Obama has requested an additional $200 billion to fund Mideast military operations for the next 18 months. The budget also provides for the option of requesting an additional $750 billion to resuscitate the financial sector. See more from Ezra, Reich, and Dana.
  • CPAC is on in Washington, D.C. today, and Sarah Posner has some great reports from enemy territory. Patrick Ruffini has an interesting reflection on the "Joe-the-Plumberization of the GOP" at The Next Right, and while though I don't agree with his analysis of liberalism, his assessment of contemporary conservatism is spot-on.
  • Speaking of the state of conservatism, there's nothing surprising or novel about this William Kristol op-ed previewing the party-of-no strategy of the GOP. What I did find amusing was this description of the movement: "Conservatism is more sophisticated than it was back then [the 30's and 60's]." Sophisticated? I think he meant to say, "gets more attention." Some recent examples of the "sophistication" of the conservative movement: Rush Limbaugh convening a summit to explore the complex issue of why women think he's a sexist pig (hint: he's a misogynistic troglodyte); the stillborn "new American tea party" movement (they use Twitter!); calling an anti-crime provision in the omnibus bill "pork"; clinging to voodoo economics to the bitter end; keeping Birchism alive and well by giving space to (and applauding) citizenship conspiracy theorists; and their principled understanding of the role of federalism and freedom in American political life. If I were a Republican, I'd start listening to the governor of Utah, who continues to utter surprisingly honest and accurate assessments of the state of his party.
  • Greg Sargent has a great set of posts detailing his interview with Bill Clinton, and the former president strikes me as quite optimistic. In addition to giving Obama's Tuesday quasi-SOTU address a big thumbs up, Clinton explained why he thinks the president will succeed with health care reform whereas he failed, and correctly identifies the Republican problem ("[they] have isolated themselves by having predictable, tired old objections which are not supportable by the facts") while suggesting how they can find their way back to the political mainstream: "They should give him [Obama] some more votes now in the Congress and develop an
    alternative plan for the future that’s different, and say, 'We’re all
    in a terrible crisis now, we’ll help him get through the emergency, but
    we don’t agree with his long term approach.' That I think would be a
    good strategy for them."
  • Policy/legislation roundup: The Obama administration has changed defense policy to allow photography of coffins returning from war overseas; is seeking a new assault weapons ban; and will end medical marijuana police raids. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate and House are concerned about the administration's Iraq plan; the Senate rejects a reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine; reestablishing the line-item veto gains support in the Senate; D.C. statehood is imminent; and Republicans gear up to oppose OLC nominee Dawn Johnsen.
  • Signs of the times: Harry Reid gets the endorsement of a top Nevada Republican, and a top Democratic donor becomes a major player with Log Cabin Republicans.
  • Both Kevin Drum and John Quiggin have some concise thoughts on the worthlessness of hack columnists, at the expense, respectively, of Michael Gerson and George Will (who apparently is set to double down on the lies come tomorrow).
  • It sure didn't take long for the "We Demand Kal Penn as Bobby Jindal on SNL" Facebook page to be created. God bless them intertubes.

--Mori Dinauer