President Bush says the U.S. government can get back to a balanced budget by 2004. But Mr. Bush says it will not happen unless Congress makes some tough choices.
The cost of the war on terrorism and a few expanded domestic programs has wiped out the federal budget surplus.
President Bush has long said he would go to deficit spending if the nation is at war or in an economic recession. He says those conditions are present today.
"The best way to make sure that we get rid of this deficit this short-term temporary deficit is to continue to stimulate our economy," he added. "More jobs and more growth equals more tax revenues. And at the same time we have to have strong fiscal discipline here in Washington, D.C."
For Mr. Bush, the notion of raising taxes to erase the deficit is unacceptable. He stressed that if Congress controls spending the budget could be back in balance soon.
"If we restrain spending, even though we are at war, even though our economy is still 'clunking" along,' if we act responsibly we can return to a balanced budget, something I want, as early as 2004," he said.
The president told a White House meeting on budget issues that tough choices will have to be made, but added with a spirit of bi-partisanship a balanced budget can become reality once again.