Obama unveils $1.75 Trillion deficit budget plan

Friday, 27 February 2009, 03:04 Hrs
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Washington: U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday unveiled a budget blueprint for 2010 projecting a stunning deficit of $1.75 trillion for the current fiscal year that began last October with an over $1 trillion shortfall.

Presenting the budget that he described as an "honest accounting of where we are and where we intend to go", Obama said: "There are times when you can afford to redecorate your house...and there are times when you have to focus on rebuilding its foundation."

Adding to the deficit are the costs of bank bailouts, the first wave of spending from the newly enacted stimulus plan and the continuing costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But despite an ambitious agenda that requires "significant resources", Obama aims to halve the current $1.3 trillion deficit by 2013.

Congress received a 140-page summary of the budget Thursday morning. The full details are expected in April.

Slamming what he called a "dishonest accounting" in regard to the costs of war, Obama said: "Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home; it's not how your government should run its budgets either."

The president said his budget includes investments in renewable energy, education, and health care-priorities he outlined during his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday.

Obama is asking Congress for more than $200 billion to fund U.S. war efforts for the next year and a half, according to defence officials cited by CNN.

The request will be for $75.5 billion for 2009 to cover the cost of sending more troops to Afghanistan this year and an additional $130 billion for fiscal year 2010, it said.

War spending for 2010 will be part of the president's overall defence funding request. The money will be in addition to $534 billion for the US Defence Department's other expenditures, which the president is expected to request from Congress.

Congress gave the Pentagon $65.9 billion for the first half of fiscal 2009.

Obama is also proposing a $634 billion health care "reserve fund" aimed at reforming the system, according to senior administration officials. In order to fund it, Obama will ask wealthy Americans to deal with a tax increase and wealthy seniors to pay higher Medicare premiums.
Source: IANS
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