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MARGARET WARNER: Copies of President Bush’s 2005 budget arrived on Capitol Hill this morning, four volumes totaling some 2,300 pages. The proposed $2.4 trillion budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1, includes hefty increases for only a few programs; a nearly 10 percent hike for homeland security, to roughly $30 billion; and a 7 percent boost for military spending, to more than $400 billion. That amount does not include additional money that may be needed for ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The president’s budget projects this year’s deficit will run a record $521 billion. At a cabinet meeting this morning, Mr. Bush said he is “confident” he can cut the annual deficit in half in five years.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The reason we are where we are in terms of the deficit is because we went through a recession, we were attacked, and we’re fighting a war. And these are high hurdles for a budget and for a country to overcome, and yet we’ve overcome them, because we got a great country full of decent people. And the economy’s getting better, and as the economy gets better, it enables us to send up a budget to the Congress that does cut the deficit in half.
MARGARET WARNER: To do that, the president proposed limiting all non-Social Security, non- Medicare domestic programs to an average increase of 1/2 of 1 percent , less than the rate of inflation. He also would eliminate 65 government programs and sharply reduce 63 others. White House Budget Director Joshua Bolten explained how those programs were chosen.
JOSHUA BOLTEN: In some cases, we say “mission accomplished,” that this was intended to be a short- term program, it’s done its job. In other cases, we say this is a program that is duplicative of other programs that we have in place, especially when we have new and better programs to put, to deal with the same subject matter.
MARGARET WARNER: Some domestic programs would get a boost, including the no child left behind education reforms, job training, the national endowment for the arts, and NASA. The budget also includes a substantially revised projection for the new Medicare prescription drug program. It’s now estimated to cost $534 billion over ten years, one third more than anticipated when the president signed the bill.