Why Bush's budget will change its shape
His $3.1 trillion budget would be the largest ever.
When it comes to President Bush's new $3 trillion budget blueprint for 2009, one thing is almost certain: It's going to get changed. Probably a lot.Skip to next paragraph
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In part that's because events may intervene. The economy could be falling into recession, with unpredictable fiscal results. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars will probably cost far more than the $70 billion allotted them in Mr. Bush's plan.
But politics is the main reason why Uncle Sam's actual '09 spending and taxing policies will probably end up so differently from the way the president proposes. Bush is a lame duck, with less power to get his way. A new chief executive – be they Republican or Democratic – will have different policy priorities.
And a Democratic Congress is unlikely to rubber-stamp Bush's proposed increase in military spending and decrease in domestic programs.
The president's 2009 budget, released Monday, calls for $3.1 trillion in federal spending. That marks the first time a proposed budget has broken the $3 trillion mark. By way of contrast, Bush's first budget, way back in 2001, called for less than $2 trillion in outlays.
But falling tax receipts – particularly from corporations – and the expense of a proposed stimulus package for the economy will send the federal deficit soaring, according to the Bush outline. It will reach $410 billion in fiscal 2008, and $407 billion in fiscal '09, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
In 2007, the deficit was $162 billion.
"Today's budget bears all the hallmarks of the Bush legacy – it leads to more deficits, more debt, more tax cuts, more cutbacks in critical services," said Rep. John Spratt (D) of South Carolina, chairman of the House Budget Committee.
Bush defended his budget as a reflection of a commitment to fiscal responsibility and a strong defense.
The plan proposes getting rid of 151 programs that the White House deems ineffective. Of these, 47 are education initiatives, among them grants for career and technical education, elementary and secondary school counseling, and education for native Hawaiians. Military spending would rise to $515 billion for the Department of Defense's base budget. If Congress approves that figure, the military budget will have risen 74 percent during Bush's tenure, note Office of Management and Budget documents.