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Bush opens the budget debate

By wire services
Published February 7, 2006


WASHINGTON - President Bush proposed a $2.77-trillion budget on Monday calling for increased spending on defense and homeland security and substantial cutbacks in domestic programs as disparate as education, farm subsidies and the national parks.

But it is unclear how much appetite Congress will have in a critical midterm election year for further spending cuts, including a new formula Bush is proposing to limit the growth in Medicare spending, at a savings of $36-billion over the next five years.

The president wants to deeply cut or eliminate 141 domestic programs in areas such as education, community development and antipoverty programs. Nine of the 15 cabinet departments are slated for cuts.

Presidential budgets amount to an opening offer in a yearlong negotiation with Congress. Here's a quick look at departments with the largest percentage changes:

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

SPENDING: $491.3-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: -8.7 percent

MANDATORY SPENDING: $2-billion

Includes only $50-billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared to an estimated $125-billion that was spent in 2006 for those wars and for hurricane relief in the U.S. The Pentagon is expected to request more money for the wars as the year goes on. Increases spending on other military programs by 7 percent, to $439.3-billion.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

SPENDING: $63.4-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: -28.5 percent

MANDATORY SPENDING: $9-billion

Eliminates 42 programs, including money for the arts, technology, parent-resource centers and drug-free schools. Of the 141 programs that Bush wants to eliminate or cut across the government, almost one-third would be in education, accounting for almost $3.5-billion. The real cuts to the education budget seem high because of one-time changes that inflated the 2006 budget, such as emergency aid to schools hit by hurricanes.

HOMELAND SECURITY

SPENDING: $31-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: .8 percent

MANDATORY SPENDING: $98-million

The budget largely focuses on Homeland Security's crackdown on U.S. borders. It also gives FEMA a 10 percent boost - to $5.3-billion - to strengthen disaster response after Hurricane Katrina.

DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT

SPENDING: $33.5-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: -29.9 percent

Congress recently approved about $11.5-billion in assistance for victims. That money was added to the 2006 budget, which explains most of the 30 percent cut for fiscal 2007.

STATE DEPARTMENT

SPENDING: $33-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: 3.1 percent

Spending increase is the largest for an agency. Requests $4-billion for a global program to fight HIV/AIDS, more than $740-million above last year, plus $225-million to combat malaria and $210-million to fight bird flu abroad.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT

SPENDING: $495.8-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: .2 percent

MANDATORY SPENDING: $484.2-billion

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, dubbed FinCen, would receive $90-million, up from a request of $73-million last year.

VETERANS AFFAIRS

SPENDING: $77.7-billion

CHANGE FROM 2006: 0.4 percent

MANDATORY SPENDING: $42-billion

Anticipates VA will provide medical care to more than 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in 2007.

Sources: New York Times, Cox News Service, Associated Press

[Last modified February 7, 2006, 01:13:13]


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