This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.
This week, President Bush sent Congress his spending plan for two thousand
eight. His budget proposes almost three trillion dollars in government spending,
a four percent increase over this year. The new budget year begins October
Mr. Bush says his plan will finance the war on terrorism and still
lead to a balanced budget in 2012 without raising taxes.
His budget includes, for the first time, detailed cost estimates for the war
in Iraq. Until now, war costs have been considered largely as emergency spending
measures, when needed.
Mr. Bush is asking Congress for 145 billion dollars for operations in Iraq
and Afghanistan for 2008. He also wants an additional one hundred billion
dollars for this year.
Since the invasion in 2003, the war in Iraq has cost more than 340 billion
The president says his proposed budget is realistic even with the costs of
the war. He says the budget can be brought into balance if the economy continues
to grow and Congress shows financial restraint.
His chief economic advisor, Ed Lazear, says the strong economy will make it
possible to limit cuts in government programs. He says it will also make it
possible to pay for the war and reduce the current budget deficit.
This is the first time the president has proposed a budget to a Congress with
a Democratic majority. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton noted
the size of the defense requests -- 625 billion dollars. He said Congress
must look at the details carefully, to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent
Approving a budget is a long and complex legislative process. Government
offices could close if the president has not signed a new budget by October 1.
But Congress can pass temporary spending measures known as continuing
resolutions until a budget is in place.
In recent years, budgets have had a big increase in special interest projects
added by individual lawmakers. These additions, called earmarks, are often
criticized as wasteful.
Democrats have promised to restrict earmark spending. The president wants
Congress to cut earmarks in half by the end of this year.
Mr. Bush is also asking for line-item veto power -- the power to veto
individual spending items passed by Congress. Under the separation of powers,
the president can only veto complete spending bills.
And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Steve