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President Bush Sends Congress Budget Plan

President Bush sent Congress a proposed $2.9 trillion spending blueprint, which includes $245 billion for military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. White House budget Director Ron Portman and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., debate the numbers.

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    More than $141 billion are targeted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; $91 billion worth of cuts in spending growth are proposed for government health programs; and the president's tax cuts could become permanent.

    Those are just some of the highlights of President Bush's 2008 $2.9 trillion spending blueprint, delivered to the chairman of the House Budget Committee, John Spratt, and his colleagues just after a cold sunrise this morning on Capitol Hill.


    Would you say it received a chilly reception on Capitol Hill?

    REP. JOHN SPRATT (D), South Carolina: Well, it's pretty frosty this morning, but we'll give the president a fair hearing on his budget. We think we probably have different priorities. Hopefully we can converge; we'll see.


    The president's most ambitious goal: turning the current $244 billion deficit into a projected surplus of $61 billion by 2012.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: Today we submit a budget to the United States Congress which shows we can balance the budget in five years without raising taxes.

    Our economy is strong because of good policy and because the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. By keeping taxes down, we actually generate strong revenues to the Treasury.

    Our priority is to protect the American people. And our priority is to make sure our troops have what it takes to do their jobs. We also have got priorities in national parks, in education, in health care.


    As in previous years, the military was a major element in the new spending request, with more than $624 billion allocated for the overall defense budget. This is the first time the administration has included in the budget a projection of the war's cost: $141 billion for 2008.

    The president's supplemental request for the war's fiscal year 2007 is $93 billion. If approved, this request would bring total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to nearly $700 billion through 2008. For 2009, the president is seeking $50 billion for the war but acknowledges that figure could change.

    The president also seeks to make those first-term tax cuts introduced in 2001 and 2003 permanent, at a cost of $1.6 trillion over 10 years. Some of the savings would come from reductions in government benefit programs for the elderly and the poor over the next five years, cutting $66 billion from the growth in Medicare spending and $25 billion from the growth in Medicaid.

    Another $12 billion would come from eliminating or sharply reducing 141 domestic programs, including in education. Many of these proposals were rejected by Congress last year. Democrats today called the president's math unrealistic.


    Not a newfound commitment to fiscal responsibility, but more of the same.


    The House Budget Committee will begin reviewing the president's proposal tomorrow.