President Bush sent Congress a €2.07 trillion spending plan today that would accelerate tax cuts to bolster the weak economy, overhaul some of the US government’s biggest social programmes and shower billions of additional dollars on defence and homeland security.
Even though hundreds of other government programmes would be squeezed, the president projects the deficit will still hit record highs of €282bn this year and €285bn in 2004.
Bush’s budget plan for fiscal 2004 that begins on October 1 will set off months of heated debate in Congress.
Democrats have already attacked the tax cuts as a boon for the wealthy that will do little to help the economy but will rob Social Security of the money needed for baby boomers’ retirements.
The president blamed the deficits “on a recession and a war we did not choose.” He said his budget would impose ”spending discipline” through such efforts as reshaping the government’s big health care programmes, Medicare and Medicaid, along more conservative lines.
“The budget for 2004 meets the challenges posed by three national priorities - winning the war against terrorism, securing the homeland and generating long-term economic growth,” Bush said in his budget message to Congress.
Bush sent Congress a stack of books spelling out his proposal. The five separate documents, featuring a bright blue line drawing of the White House, included one extra book this year analysing the efficiency of hundreds of federal programmes, part of a Bush management initiative.
The budget was released two days after the Columbia space shuttle disaster. In the Nasa section, prepared before the accident, the administration proposed a substantial increase in spending on the shuttle in 2004. The spending had dropped 1.9% this year.