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Background: Detailing the Budget

April 9, 2001 at 12:00 AM EDT


RAY SUAREZ: People lined up along the sidewalk on North Capitol Street in Washington this morning. They weren’t waiting to buy concert tickets or to enjoy a new gallery or museum exhibit. At precisely 8:00, the doors of the government printing office would open and the details of President Bush’s 2002 budget would be available for all to see. Even South Carolina’s John Spratt, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, had to wait his turn. And when it came, Spratt wrote out a personal check for $199 to get his own copy of the five-volume set. It contains the President’s specific spending recommendations for all government agencies and programs. The President discussed his budget numbers this morning with members of his cabinet and the White House press corps.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It’s a budget that protects taxpayers, protects children, protects our surplus. It represents compassionate conservatism.

RAY SUAREZ: The President’s budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, proposes to spend nearly $2 trillion. 65% of it already is locked in for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, interest on the national debt and other mandatory spending programs. 16%, nearly $320 billion would go to national defense. While the remaining 19% would be spent on other discretionary programs. That chunk will serve as the battleground as the President pits his spending priorities against those of the Congress.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It’s a budget that recognizes there are some good programs here in Washington that need to be funded.

RAY SUAREZ: While the President wants to limit the overall increase in spending to 4%, some programs would get much more. Education spending is earmarked at $45 billion, an 11.5% boost over last year. The National Institutes of Health would get nearly $3 billion, the first down payment on the President’s promise to double the NIH budget. The President has set a 10-year goal to spend 153 billion to modernize Medicare and add a prescription drug benefit. But the President also cuts the budget for several of his department heads, including the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Justice, Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of President Clinton’s favorite programs would be can you as well: Specifically, a 17% cut in an anti-crime program aimed at putting 100,000 new police officers on the street; cuts in funding to train doctors at children’s hospitals; and cuts in a tax credit program designed to boost economically depressed neighborhoods.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Washington’s known for its pork. This budget funds our needs without the fat.

RAY SUAREZ: The President’s budget also makes room to trigger two of his ten-year initiatives to pay down two $2 trillion worth of debt, and provide $1.6 trillion of tax cuts. After spending several hours unearthing the details of the President’s budget, Congressman John Spratt said it appears the President was sacrificing important programs to pay for his tax cuts.

REP. JOHN SPRATT: Medicaid, graduate medical education, environmental programs in the department of the interior, programs at EPA, training and employment programs, child care and development block grants. Down the list, and I’ll come back to those individually, we found cuts in all of these programs, in order to make way for the President’s tax cut.

RAY SUAREZ: Spratt predicted the President would have to negotiate his budget numbers with members of Congress from both parties. And he said spending for agriculture programs and defense almost certainly will be increased.