Red Ink Forever From Sea To Shining Sea!
Bush Aides Say Budget Deficit Will Rise Again
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
Published: January 26, 2005
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 - The White House announced on Tuesday that the federal budget deficit was expected to rise this year to $427 billion, a figure that includes a new request from President Bush to help pay for the war in Iraq.
The White House's announcement makes it the fourth straight year in which the budget deficit was expected to grow; as recently as last July the administration had predicted that the deficit, which was $412 billion last year, would fall this year to $331 billion.
The deficit figure announced by the White House, which includes part of an additional $80 billion that Mr. Bush requested mostly for Iraq, was higher than the $368 billion estimate announced earlier in the day by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, though that figure did not include supplemental costs for the war. The deficit estimates are roughly consistent with each other with the inclusion of those costs, which cover bombs, bullets, armor for vehicles used in Iraq, and the replacement of tanks and Humvees blown up by insurgent forces.
Neither estimate includes the cost of privatizing part of the Social Security program, the leading element of Mr. Bush's domestic agenda. Estimates of the cost of creating those accounts range from $1 trillion to $2 trillion over the next two decades.
The Congressional Budget Office noted that if Mr. Bush wins Congressional approval to make his tax cuts permanent, a top priority for the administration, the deficit would grow by $2 trillion over the next 10 years. If war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan taper off gradually, the agency estimated that price tag over the next 10 years could total nearly $600 billion.
In a briefing for reporters on Tuesday, senior administration officials insisted they were still on track to fulfill Mr. Bush's campaign promise of reducing the federal budget deficit by half by 2009. But Mr. Bush is already well behind in reaching his goal. The deficit this year will amount to about 3.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the economy, a figure that is still below where the United States was in the late 1980's.
Beyond the war costs, administration officials did not spell out the precise reasons for the deficit increase. Tax receipts are expected to climb by about $200 billion in 2005, but mandatory spending for entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid is expected to rise significantly faster than the rate of inflation.
Mr. Bush defended his $80 billion request for Iraq in a written statement on Tuesday - he had no public events where he could be questioned about it by reporters - saying "our troops will have whatever they need to protect themselves and complete their mission."
But on Capitol Hill, Democrats made clear that while the $80 billion was likely to be approved, they would use the debate on it to question Mr. Bush's war strategy, just as they have done with the confirmation hearings for Condoleezza Rice, the nominee for secretary of state.....
Democrats quickly seized on the administration's announcement and the new Congressional deficit report, accusing Mr. Bush of making a bad fiscal situation worse by pushing for permanent tax cuts at a time of war.
"The administration remains in denial about these fiscal results," said Representative John M. Spratt Jr., Democrat of South Carolina and the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee.....