Katie Couric's Notebook: Discretionary Spending

Pop quiz:  Who said, "A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you're talking about real money?"

If you guessed Senator Everett Dirksen, you're right - and wrong. According to the Dirksen Center that famous line attributed to him never passed his lips.

Yet, it's on everyone's mind as President Obama rolls out a $3.7 trillion budget.

So as they argue over education costs or clean energy initiatives both parties are doing the discretionary spending dance - which accounts for only 12 percent of the budget....and omits entitlements.

Medicare and Medicaid: $1.1 trillion of mandatory spending. Social Security: $808 billion.

Sure, they can debate whether or not $40 million dollars should go to train science teachers. Every penny counts.

But until someone has the political courage to tackle entitlement costs...it's all just a billion here...a billion there.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.