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Bush Campaigns for Budget

U.S. President George Bush is defending his latest budget request to Congress, saying it will balance federal spending within five years. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

President Bush says he has done the hard work in this budget to set clear priorities for America's future.

"The number one priority is to spend monies necessary to defeat an enemy who wants to cause us harm," he said. "One of the lessons of September 11 is that chaos and safe haven overseas can cause an enemy to come and harm us. And I am never going to forget the lesson."

This is the president's first budget that includes long-term estimates for the costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Bush is asking Congress for $145 billion for Iraq for 2008. That amount is separate from the additional $100 billion he is asking Congress to approve for the current 2007 fiscal year.

Speaking at a technology firm in the state of Virginia, the president said his $2.9 trillion spending plan for 2008 will balance the budget in five years without raising taxes.

"I think raising taxes hurts the economy," he added. "I think raising taxes makes it harder to sustain economic growth. I think if we raise taxes, it makes it harder for this company to invest billions of dollars in new equipment. And if this company decides not to invest billions of dollars in new equipment, it makes it harder for your wages to go up."

The president again called for Congress to make permanent his record tax cuts. Those cuts were passed when the president's political party controlled the legislature.

Both houses of Congress are controlled by the opposition Democratic Party. Democrats have questioned the need to maintain those tax cuts during a time of war. Some opposition lawmakers say the president's budget leads the nation deeper into debt.

Asked if it is fair to say the president's plan does not raise taxes when its health-care provisions would boost fees for some higher earners, a White House spokeswoman said the plan is cost neutral. She says there would be some people who would possibly have additional taxes, but that totally obscures the president's policy as a vast majority of Americans would save money with the plan.