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Bush to Unveil 2005 Budget on Monday - 2004-01-31


President Bush wants to put legal limits on the amount of Congressional spending to keep the federal deficit from growing larger. Mr. Bush unveils his 2005 budget on Monday and used his weekly radio address to outline some of his spending priorities.

President Bush says his budget for the coming fiscal year will show Americans that his priorities are clearly at work.

"We will devote the resources necessary to win the war on terror and protect our homeland," he said. "We'll provide compassionate help to seniors, to schoolchildren, and to Americans in need of job training. And we will be responsible with the people's money by cutting the deficit in half over five years."

The president is calling for a seven percent increase in defense spending that he says will go toward equipment, ammunition, and housing for the troops. He is also asking for a 3.5 percent military pay raise.

The budget calls for spending on Homeland Security to rise nearly 10 percent to more than $30 billion.

"This money will help tighten security at our borders, airports and seaports, and improve our defenses against biological attack," said president Bush.

There is also an 11 percent increase in the budget for the Federal Bureau of Investigations which includes $357 million for counterterrorism.

On domestic spending, Mr. Bush says the government is moving toward prescription drug coverage for older Americans. But unlike other areas of spending, the president did not mention specific dollar figures for Medicare in his weekly radio address.

That legislation narrowly passed Congress last year when fiscally conservative Republicans agreed to the plan only after administration assurances that its cost would not exceed $400 billion over 10 years.

Now the White House says Medicare will cost at least $530 billion. That could set-up a budget showdown with some Congressional Republicans who are already critical of the president's spending and his refusal to consider any of the $87 billion for Iraqi reconstruction as loans rather than grants.

President Bush says he wants more money for schools to meet the higher expectations of his education reforms which require more standardized tests and allow parents to move their children to better performing schools.

He is asking Congress to fund his Jobs for the 21st Century initiative designed to help high school students who are falling behind in reading and math. It also provides more money for community colleges to help train worker.

Despite the new programs and boosts in spending on defense and Homeland Security, the president says his budget keeps increases in overall discretionary spending at less than four percent. To prevent Congress from spending more, Mr. Bush wants to make spending limits the law.

"This simple step would mean that every additional dollar the Congress wants to spend in excess of spending limits must be matched by a dollar in spending cuts elsewhere," he said. "Budget limits must mean something, and not just serve as vague guidelines to be routinely violated."

Mr. Bush says his budget uses tax dollars wisely by focusing on protecting Americans from harm and promoting prosperity and compassion at home.

Congressional Democrats say the president's record tax cuts are driving up the federal deficit. In the Democratic radio address, North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller said deficits are dragging the economy down and leaving what he called a staggering debt for future generations.

"If President Bush thinks these are good times, I wish he'd been with me when I visited the unemployment office in Rockingham County, North Carolina," said Brad Miller. "The parking lot was full. I had to drive around the block and finally parked on the grass."

North Carolina lost more than 12,000 textile jobs last year. Democrats hope to challenge the president on the economy in this year's election as almost three million Americans have lost their jobs since Mr. Bush took office

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