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Hits And Misses In Obama's Proposed Budget

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Hits And Misses In Obama's Proposed Budget

Analysis

Hits And Misses In Obama's Proposed Budget

Hits And Misses In Obama's Proposed Budget

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Renee Montagne talks with NPR News Analyst Cokie Roberts about what's being stressed in the White House budget plan and what isn't being talked about.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Let's get some analysis, now, from NPR's Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: And so we just heard Andrea talking about education spending. Over the last few weeks, we've been hearing more and more about the administration's plans to deal with education and less and less, as it happens, about health care. What is that all about?

ROBERTS: Well, I think they are looking for a success. They're looking for some place to actually get something done. This is a place where they could, perhaps, reach across party lines effectively. You know, that was true in the Bush administration with the No Child Left Behind law, where he negotiated it with late Senator Kennedy. But, a lot of educators soured on that law. Now the Obama administration is talking about overhauling it, but in a way that still holds schools and teachers accountable for students' success, and in a departure, makes federal dollars dependent on students' success.

So, that should be something - those should be policies Republicans like a lot. They're the kinds of things Republicans have talked about for a long time. So, it'll be very interesting to see if they will go for anything. 'Cause if they go for anything the Obama administration proposes, this should be the place that they do it.

Or maybe they just absolutely determined to oppose the president on everything, even if they agree with him. So, this will be a test for that.

MONTAGNE: Do you think, though, Cokie, that the Obama administration has given up on the health care issue?

ROBERTS: Well, it really is striking, isn't it, Renee, that after all these months of waking up and talking about or listening about health care, that it suddenly just basically off the table? Yesterday, the budget director said, well, we think it's on the five yard line, and Democrats are saying we are going to pass something, but nobody's saying it's going to happen any time soon.

It's just the election of Scott Brown, the Republican senator in Massachusetts, just took all of the air out of the issue.

MONTAGNE: And Scott Brown was on his first Sunday talk show, yesterday. From your point of view, what did we learn? The senator's now quite pivotal?

ROBERTS: He is indeed. You know, everybody holds up signs when he goes out, saying 41, making the point that he is the Republican who can make a filibuster hold and make it impossible for the Democrats to get things through the Senate. But he said, yesterday, that every senator is the 41st senator, and there's a lot of truth to that.

That with the rules in the Senate, that you basically need 60 votes to get something passed, that every senator has a great deal of power and is using it these days. We did learn that Scott Brown, he didn't back away from his moderate positions on social issues, like abortions. And Haley Barber, former chairman of the Republican Party, says that, well, Brown's election shows that Republicans don't need purity, that they need to elect the best people that they can elect.

Now, that's going to be a real issue inside the Republican Party - whether they can go with people like Scott Brown in other states or whether the purists in the party, and the tea party folks, and all of that, are going to insist on a more conservative Republican. And that's going to be playing out in this election year in ways that could be very harmful to the Republican Party.

MONTAGNE: Although, President Obama tried to cross party lines by going to a Republican retreat on Friday - sort of going to the lion's den, although...

ROBERTS: Right.

MONTAGNE: ...although in this case, it turned into quite a lively give and take.

ROBERTS: It was. It really was interesting to see. It was almost like watching the British parliament when the prime minister goes in for question time, from the opposition. And Obama, I think, really came out of this, really, better than the Republicans, because there were cameras there. So he was there, looking like he was ready to take on their questions and be friendly, and they did have to play to those purists in the party and be very tough on him. So, they didn't look terribly friendly and I'm not sure that works for them.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks. NPR's Cokie Roberts.

And you are listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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