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Bush seeks billions more for Iraq war

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  • Bush seeks billions more for Iraq war

    US President George W Bush is sending Congress a $US2.9 trillion ($A3.75 trillion) spending request that seeks billions of dollars more to fight the Iraq war.

    It also tries to rein in the spiralling cost of the government's big health care programs.

    Responding to the new political realities of a Democratic-controlled Congress, Bush will propose balancing the budget in five years, matching a goal put forward by Democratic leaders. But Bush would achieve that feat while protecting his cherished first-term tax cuts.

    The arrival of the massive four-volume set of green budget books, which will cover the budget year that begins next October 1, will be followed by months of debate in Congress.

    Democrats charge that Bush wants to make painful cuts across a wide swath of government programs while protecting tax cuts that will make the deficit worse after 2012.

    "This budget is plunging us toward a cliff that will take us right into a chasm of debt," Senate Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad, a Democrat, said.

    "In real terms, Bush's plan is going to have very substantial cuts by the fifth year of this budget in all of the domestic priorities from education and health care to law enforcement and veterans," Conrad said.

    "With Democrats in control, we will have different priorities."

    The federal deficit hit an all-time high under Bush of $US413 billion ($A534 billion) in 2004.

    It has been declining since that time and the 2008 budget projects that it will continue to decline and show a surplus in 2012, three years after Bush leaves office.

    To accomplish those reductions, Bush would allow only modest growth in the government programs outside of defence and homeland security. He is proposing eliminations or sharp reductions in 141 government programs, for a savings over five years of $US12 billion ($A15.5 billion), although Congress has rejected many of the same proposals over the past two years.

    Bush's budget would achieve nearly $US100 billion ($A130 billion) in savings over five years by trimming increases in Medicare, the health insurance program for 43 million retirees and disabled, and Medicaid, which provides health care to the poor.

    The president appealed for Democratic support during an appearance at a House Democrats' retreat, saying the government must do something to restrain the soaring costs of costs of entitlement spending on health care and pensions before the looming retirement of 78 million baby boomers.

    "I'm under no illusions of how hard it's going to be," he told the Democrats.

    "The only thing I want to share with you is ... my desire to see if we can't work together to get it done."

    For the first time, Bush will spell out details of the spending requests for Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget books. Previously, he has lumped that spending into supplemental requests with less detail.

    Bush said he would ask for an additional $US100 billion ($A130 billion) for Iraq and fighting terrorism this year, on top of $US70 billion ($A90 billion) already sought.

    For 2008, that spending would drop to $US145 billion ($A188 billion) and fall to $US50 billion ($A65 billion) in 2009, although administration officials conceded that the 2008 and 2009 requests could go higher depending on the progress of the war effort.

    White House budget director Rob Portman said the spending includes the cost of increasing troop strength in Iraq by 21,500, an increase that opponents want Congress to go on record as opposing in upcoming non-binding resolutions. The administration projects that the troop increase will cost $US5.6 billion ($A7.25 billion) this year, a figure that critics say is too low.

    As in past years, the Pentagon is scheduled to get a hefty increase in spending authority of 11 per cent, pushing its 2008 budget to $US481.4 billion ($A622.7 billion).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by kbsooner21
      Fingers stuck?