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Bush Sends 2008 Budget to Congress

President Bush has sent his 2008 budget proposal to Congress. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from the White House that Mr. Bush says the spending plan will provide needed funds for the war on terrorism, while putting the nation on course to erase the current budget deficit in five years.

President Bush says his $2.9 trillion spending proposal is realistic and his budget goal is achievable.

"Today we submit a budget to the United States Congress that shows we can balance the budget in five years without raising taxes," the president said.

Mr. Bush says even with the costs of the war in Iraq, the budget can be brought into balance if the economy continues to grow, and Congress exercises overall fiscal restraint.

"Our economy is strong because of good policy, because the entrepreneurial spirit is strong and by keeping taxes down we actually generate strong revenues to the treasury,"

he said.

The president spoke at the end of a meeting with his cabinet that was largely devoted to budget issues, including the high cost of military operations in Iraq.

His new budget includes, for the first time, long-term estimates of war expenses. Mr. Bush is asking Congress to approve 145-billion dollars for Iraq for 2008, and alerts lawmakers to an imminent request for an additional 100-billion for the current 2007 fiscal year.

"Our priority is to protect the American people," Mr. Bush said. "And our priority is to make sure our troops have what it takes to do their jobs."

The president made the remarks shortly after copies of his budget proposal were formally delivered to members of the House and Senate, setting off a detailed legislative process that is likely to drag on for months.

This is the first time the president has submitted a budget to a Democratic Party-controlled Congress, and lawmakers made clear they plan to give his spending proposal tough scrutiny.

In a written statement, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton called the military request "staggering." He said Congress must look at the details carefully, to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.