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President Sends '06 Budget to Congress

But even amid the cutbacks, some presidential priorities would remain flush. Youth programs advocating sexual abstinence would increase by $39 million, to $206 million, while $161 million would be set aside for grants to faith-based organizations to "mentor children of prisoners and provide a safe place for young pregnant and parenting mothers." In another sign of the times, financing for the apprehension of Army deserters would double.

The budget plan relies on substantial savings in entitlement programs, particularly Medicaid, which it envisions cutting by $60 billion over the next 10 years in what the administration described as a crackdown on states abusing the program. The cuts, offset by $15 billion in new Medicaid spending, would force state governments to either absorb the expenses or eliminate some services.

Hundreds of people line up early at the Government Printing Office to receive a copy of President Bush's proposed 2006 budget. (Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

_____Budget Politics_____
Audio: Post congressional reporter Mike Allen discusses how the president's budget is being received on Capitol Hill.
_____Live Discussion_____
Transcript: Brookings Economist William Gale discusses the 2006 budget.
Transcript: Post's Jonathan Weisman

_____More Coverage_____
Bush Calls for Familiar Trims (The Washington Post, Feb 8, 2005)
Congress Unlikely to Embrace Bush Wish List (The Washington Post, Feb 8, 2005)
Troops' Pay Raise, Retooling Efforts Come With Price (The Washington Post, Feb 8, 2005)
Plan Avoids Rollbacks That Some Feared (The Washington Post, Feb 8, 2005)
For Budget Director, No Red Ink and the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day (The Washington Post, Feb 8, 2005)

But the cost of Medicare appeared to be soaring beyond earlier expectations. The Medicare prescription drug benefit Bush pushed through in his first term will take effect in 2006 and cost $395 billion over five years, a steep increase from the original projection of $400 billion over 10 years. Last summer, the administration boosted the estimate to $534 billion over 10 years. At the rate outlined in yesterday's budget, that would mean the program would cost at least $256 billion more by 2016.

Bush disputed suggestions that his budget cuts would fall hardest on impoverished Americans, saying he targeted ineffectual or redundant spending. "The important question that needs to be asked for all constituencies is whether or not the programs achieve a certain result," he said. "Have you set goals, and are those goals being met? And the poor and disadvantaged absolutely ought to be asking that question too."

Acknowledging that the war in Iraq would make it difficult to reduce the deficit much in the coming year, Bolten said the budget sets a path to slicing it to $233 billion by 2009, or 1.7 percent of the gross domestic product, lower than the average proportion of the economy in modern history. Even adding in the beginning of transition costs for Bush's Social Security plan would increase that to only $256 billion in 2009, officials said.

"Our expectation is that we're still on a good path," Bolten said. "We don't know yet what additional spending is likely to be outlaid in '06 and adding to the deficit number, but . . . a year from now at this time I think we will see that declining path coming true and looking very solid out through the course of the budget window."

The budget documents, though, indicate that Bush's policies would contribute to the deficit. Without any of the spending or revenue policy changes included in the Bush plan, the deficit in fiscal 2006 would be $361 billion instead of $390 billion, the documents show. Over the next five years, the impact of Bush's policy proposals would add a cumulative $42 billion in deficit spending.

Staff writers Mike Allen and Ceci Connolly contributed to this report.

OMB Deficit Projections

More Data Note: Numbers beyond 2004 are estimates. 2005 estimates include a portion of the $80 billion supplemental war spending.
Source: OMB spacer

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