Romney also is light on details on his tax cut proposal.
He says he wants to cut rates by 20 percent, but won't specify how he'll find the $5 trillion required to pay for it. For all the rhetoric of tax loopholes and cleaning up the tax code, finding that kind of money would require looking at popular deductions and tax breaks for the middle class. Those include deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions and state and local taxes, and breaks for college savings, employer-paid health insurance and families with children.
Tax experts say he could very well come up short.
Obama's budget has a lengthy and detailed mix of initiatives. But other than raising $1.4 trillion over a decade by allowing George W. Bush-era tax cuts on family income exceeding $250,000 to expire, they're mostly small-bore ideas.
There's little in the way of political danger. For instance, his budget would permit the cost of both Medicare and Medicaid to double over the coming decade. He offers cuts to health care providers, but asks no sacrifice from beneficiaries.
In private negotiations last year with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that failed, Obama displayed some willingness to take on Medicare's problems by raising from 65 the age to qualify for benefits. A "grand bargain" to get the debt under control would require him to go further.
"What he's put on the table is insufficient to get us to the goal," said Robert Reischauer, a former Urban Institute president and one-time director of the Congressional Budget Office who is one of the trustees for who oversee Social Security and Medicare. "He's going to have to ramp up the game after the election if he really wants to stabilize the debt in a reasonable length of time."
EDITOR'S NOTE — Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor has covered Congress and fiscal policy for The Associated Press since 2005.
An AP News Analysis
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.