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Early Details on Bush Budget

Early details on the Bush budget begin to surface....

"President Bush plans to unveil a $2.5 trillion budget today eliminating dozens of politically sensitive domestic programs, including funding for education, environmental protection and business development, while proposing significant increases for the military and international spending, according to White House documents.

Overall, discretionary spending other than defense and homeland security would fall by nearly 1 percent, the first time in many years that funding for the major part of the budget controlled by Congress would actually go down in real terms, according to officials with access to the budget. The cuts are scattered across a wide swath of the government, affecting a cross-section of constituents, from migrant workers to train passengers to local police departments, according to officials who read portions of the documents to The Washington Post.

About 150 programs in all would be shuttered or radically cut back to help meet Bush's goal of shaving the budget deficit in half by 2009. One out of every three of the targeted programs concerns education. Medicaid funding would be reduced significantly and even major military weapons programs would be scrapped to make more resources available for the war in Iraq.

The spending blueprint for fiscal 2006 and beyond promises to touch off a wrenching debate about national priorities in the months ahead.

The spending plan does not include future expenses of the continuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor does it include upfront transition costs of restructuring Social Security as Bush has proposed. The administration will submit a separate supplemental request largely for Afghanistan and Iraq operations in the current fiscal year, which will be reflected in the budget charts, officials said, but war costs in 2006 and beyond will not be. Nor will be the cost of Bush's Social Security plan, which would begin in 2009 and result in $754 billion in additional debt over its first five years.

Those omissions provide ammunition to Democrats who dispute Bush's math. "The Administration's claim that it will cut the deficit in half by 2009 lacks credibility," said a report released last week by House Budget Committee Democrats. When the omitted items are included, along with the impact of making Bush's first-term tax cuts permanent, the report estimated that the government would rack up $6.1 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade."
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