"Tough choices" is a fine piece of Washington phrase-makery, a euphamism for painful, politically damaging cuts. In the White House's budget, the tough choices are... not actually very tough. The budget warns of "very tight caps" mandated by the Budget Control Act, and notes that "it would not be possible to go further and still meet the needs of the Nation." The new ideas:
- A cap on overseas contigency spending at $450 billion.
- A fee on TARP recipients "restricted to financial firms with assets over $50 billion."
- A mere "0.5 percent increase in civilian pay for 2013."
- A plan to up "employee contribution toward accruing retirement costs by 1.2 percent over three years beginning in 2013."
And that's basically it.