During debt negotiations, Obama negotiated with House Republicans behind closed doors on a plan that ultimately House Republicans would submit for a vote - and for CBO analysis. So except for the the soundbyte/rhetoric version, we never really got to see what Obama really wanted for the economy. Particularly since even the plan submitted by the Senate is far from what Democrats typically want, we don't really have much of an idea what Obama intended for us - except of course, for his history. I have a theory on why that is. First, the background: Obama submitted budget proposals for FY2010 and 2011 and the CBO analysis can be found in these links: http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10014/03-20-PresidentBudget.pdf http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/112xx/doc11280/03-24-apb.pdf In terms of the hot topic of the day - the debt - these proposals are little short of disastrous. Graphs on page 1 and 13, respectively, show a drop in the deficit to around $400 billion as the economy recovers over the next few years, then a gradual increase to around $600 billion over the life of the proposals. Overall, the 2011 proposal was worse than the 2010 proposal on that score, projecting to increase the debt from $7.5T (53% of GDP) at the end of 2009 to $20.3T (90% of GDP) at the end of 2020 (page 11). This is also $5T worse than the CBO's baseline estimate. But it gets still worse. On page 33, the CBO analyzes Obama's policies vs their baseline assumptions and concluded that while his policies would increase GDP growth over the first 5 years, they'd decrease economic growth over the second five years vs how it would look if his policies weren't implimented (which they weren't, since no budget was passed). But it gets still worse. Less than a year ago, before the last election, Obama broached the subject of a second stimulus. That's more spending that didn't show up on the budget proposal and the opposite of what was just agreed to. The other side of the 'tax and spend' coin is, of course, taxes. The only tax increase proposal I'm aware of is for those above $250k income and as V50 likes to point out, it is mathematically impossible to balance the budget even by taxing them into oblivion. And back to the first side - despite what Obama says, it is mathematically possible to balance the budget with spending cuts. So my theory: I think Obama is aware of the math problems in his proposals. He's a smart guy and I think he's self-aware. He knows that his strength is vague, rhetorical speaches about principles and not specific plans. And he knows that in order to put together a plan that wouldn't get crushed by the CBO when compared to the plans by the House and Senate, he'd have to completely reverse course on some of his major policy stances. So he chose the lesser of three evils: he let himself (not that he had much of a choice) appear get bullied into a plan that is all but the opposite of his actual vision.