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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 February, 2005, 01:45 GMT
Bush budget seeks deep cutbacks
US budget papers
President Bush is looking to save money at home
President Bush has presented his 2006 budget, cutting domestic spending in a bid to lower a record deficit projected to peak at $427bn (230bn) this year.

The $2.58 trillion (1.38 trillion) budget submitted to Congress affects 150 domestic programmes from farming to the environment, education and health.

But foreign aid is due to rise by 10%, with more money to treat HIV/Aids and reward economic and political reform.

Military spending is also set to rise by 4.8%, to reach $419.3bn.

The budget does not include the cost of running military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, for which the administration is expected to seek an extra $80bn from Congress later this year.

Congress will spend several months debating George W Bush's proposal.

Reward for reform

The state department's planned budget would rise to just under $23bn - a fraction of the defence department's request - including almost $6bn to assist US allies in the "war on terror".

However, the administration is keen to highlight its global effort to tackle HIV/Aids, the BBC's Jonathan Beale reports, and planned spending would almost double to $3bn, with much of that money going to African nations.

Mr Bush also wants to increase the amount given to poorer countries through his Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The scheme has been set up to reward developing countries that embrace what the US considers to be good governance and sound policies.

Yet Mr Bush's proposed spending of $3bn on that project is well below his initial promise of $5bn.

Oil reserves

A key spending line missing from proposals is the cost of funding the administration's proposed radical overhaul of Social Security, the pensions programme on which many Americans rely for their retirement income.

To sustain our economic expansion, we must continue pro-growth policies and enforce even greater spending restraint across federal government
President George W Bush

Some experts believe this could require borrowing of up to $4.5 trillion over a 20-year period.

Neither does the budget include any cash to purchase crude oil for the US emergency petroleum stockpile.

Concern over the level of the reserve, created in 1970s, has led to rises in oil prices over the past year.

The Bush administration will instead continue to fill the reserve by taking oil - rather than cash - from energy companies that drill under federal leases.

Spending restraint

The outline proposes reductions in budgets at 12 out of 23 government agencies including cuts of 9.6% at Agriculture and 5.6% at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The spending plan for the year beginning 1 October is banking on a healthy US economy to boost government income by 6.1% to $2.18 trillion. Spending is forecast to grow by 3.5% to $2.57 trillion.

But the budget is still the tightest yet under Mr Bush's presidency.

"In order to sustain our economic expansion, we must continue pro-growth policies and enforce even greater spending restraint across federal government," Mr Bush said in his budget message to Congress.

Mr Bush has promised to halve the US's massive budget deficit within five years.

The deficit, partly the result of massive tax cuts early in Mr Bush's presidency, has been a key factor in pushing the US dollar lower.

The independent Congressional Budget Office estimates that the shortfall could shrink to little more than $200bn by 2009, returning to the surpluses seen in the late 1990s by 2012.

But its estimates depend on the tax cuts not being made permanent, in line with the promise when they were passed that they would "sunset", or disappear, in 2010.

Most Republicans, however, want them to stay in place.

And the figures also rely on the "Social Security trust fund" - the money set aside to cover the swelling costs of retirement pensions - being offset against the main budget deficit.





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