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President Bush Sends $2.57 Trillion Budget to Congress

Democrats immediately branded the budget plan a “hoax” because it did not include major costs connected with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or the president’s overhaul of Social Security.

The funding proposal, which the White House called the most austere since the Reagan era, cuts discretionary spending for domestic programs, except national security, by 0.5 percent, according to the Associated Press.

President Bush, who entered the White House in 2001 to a budget surplus that soon shifted to record deficits, warned a tight budget was coming in his State of the Union address.

“I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009,” he told a joint session of Congress. “My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results or duplicate current efforts or do not fulfill essential priorities.”

The proposal for the 2006 fiscal year, starting Oct. 1, would cut farm programs by 2.9 percent and squeeze $45 billion in savings from the Medicaid health program for the poor while abolishing subsidies for the Amtrak rail system and cutting community development programs by 4.5 percent, Reuters reported.

The spending plan projects a record $427 billion deficit this year, the third straight year of record deficits. The plan estimates the deficit will fall in subsequent years.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the budget “a hoax on the American people. The two issues that dominated the president’s State of the Union address — Iraq and Social Security — are nowhere to be found in this budget.”

The plan does not include cost estimates for President Bush’s proposal to allow younger workers to divert Social Security contributions into voluntary personal investment accounts. Aides said since the Social Security plan is still under construction, accurate cost estimates could not be made, according to the AP.

The Bush administration has said it is going to ask Congress for $80 billion more this year for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Under the budget plan unveiled Monday, the Defense Department would get $419.3 billion, which is $18.2 billion more than the current fiscal year, reported Reuters. But a number of weapons programs would see cuts.

The Department of Homeland Security would get a 7 percent hike at $34.2 billion, but when airport and security fees are excluded, the department’s budget would rise only 1.2 percent.

Of the 23 major government agencies, 12 would see their budget authority reduced next year, including cuts of 9.6 percent at the Agriculture Department, 5.6 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency, 6.7 percent at Transportation and 11.5 percent at Housing and Urban Development, the AP reported.

The aid budget includes $640 million for Pakistan, $450 million for Jordan, $437 million to fight the drug trade in Afghanistan and $550 million to support Colombia.

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