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Obama Submits First Budget to Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama has unveiled his first federal budget - outlining his spending priorities for the 2010 fiscal year. The proposal totals more than $3.5 trillion. The White House predicts the United States will enter the new fiscal year with the largest budget deficit since World War II.

The president says he wants to invest billions in high priority programs in areas such as education, health care and energy.

But he says he still intends to bring the deficit down over time.

"While we must add to our deficits in the short term to provide immediate relief to families and get our economy moving, it is only by restoring fiscal discipline over the long run that we can produce sustained growth and shared prosperity," said President Obama.

The White House says the United States will go into the 2010 fiscal year with a $1.75 trillion deficit. That is the largest budget shortfall - adjusted for inflation - since 1945.

Mr. Obama says that means everyone will have to compromise, and there will be tough choices ahead. But he stresses that certain needs cannot be ignored.

"Just as a family has to make hard choices about where to spend and where to save, so do we as a government," he said.

President Obama says he wants to put the money into programs that will pay off in the long run, such as a plan to overhaul the nation's health care system to guarantee availability and affordability.

Many Americans now get health care insurance from their employers. But with medical costs soaring, and businesses feeling the weight of the recession, the system is strained.

"With this budget we are making an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform," he said. "It's a step that will not only make families healthier and companies more competitive but over the long term it will also help us bring down our deficit."

The president put forward the broad outlines of the budget during a brief appearance at the Old Executive Office Building Thursday. He says a detailed spending plan will be submitted to Congress in April, once the White House has completed a review of every single government program.

"Having inherited a trillion-dollar deficit that will take a long time for us to close, we need to focus on what we need to move the economy forward, not on what is nice to have," said President Obama.

Mr. Obama said once again that the White House has already identified $2 trillion in potential savings over the next decade.

He said ineffective programs will be cut and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans will end.

The White House is also predicting some savings as U.S. forces are drawn down in Iraq. Officials project the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced from $130 billion in 2010, to $50 billion annually over several years.