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Bush Budget Tries to Control Spending

The budget President Bush presented to Congress follows up on his pledges to do more to control government spending. The president is proposing cuts in a range of government programs, with some increases in the amount the United States spends on bilateral assistance to foreign countries.

During most of his first term in office, President Bush was criticized by opposition Democrats and many conservative Republicans for not doing more to control government spending and for allowing the federal deficit to expand.

Now he is trying to do something about it, submitting the strictest budget of his presidency to Congress and proposing elimination or reduction of about 150 government programs.

The president spoke to reporters during a meeting with his cabinet. "I look forward to explaining to the American people why we made some of the requests that we made in our budget," he said. "I fully understand sometimes it is hard to eliminate a program that sounds good, but by getting people to focus on results, I'm saying to members of Congress, show us the results as to whether or not this program is working I think we will get a pretty good response."

President Bush has pledged to hold down non-defense discretionary spending, which is set by Congress in annual appropriation bills, but is optional in contrast to major mandatory programs.

The budget covering the 2006 fiscal year beginning next October 1, totals $2.5 trillion and proposes cuts in subsidies to American farmers.

That alone should stimulate a wave of negative reaction from organizations advocating for farmers.

But the budget also includes a proposal to cut about $32 billion from the government-funded food stamp program which benefits poor Americans.

It takes aim at politically-popular public health programs, for example saving billions by proposing cuts in Medicaid, a program that helps the poor.

Facing a $427 billion budget shortfall, President Bush has vowed to cut deficits in half by the year 2009. Democrats say that is unlikely to happen, but the president has decided to respond to critics with greater fiscal discipline.

On homeland security, another point of contention with opposition Democrats, Mr. Bush proposes an increase of about $2 billion, which is less of a boost than last year.

He continues to face criticism that the budget still does not reflect the realities the government faces, because it does not include figures for ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Money for that is contained in a separate supplementary request from the White House.

The Defense Department is in for some belt tightening, receiving about five-percent more than last year, but less than the administration had previously planned, causing a reduction in some weapons programs.