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Digest

Budget deficit in '07 could dip to $150-billion

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 5, 2007


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WASHINGTON

The federal budget deficit could go as low as $150-billion this year, congressional analysts said Friday. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had earlier seen a deficit for 2007 of about $200-billion, but continued strong revenue growth has led the CBO to lower its estimates. The CBO's estimate is necessarily imprecise since Congress and President Bush are wrestling over a $124-billion Iraq war funding bill. The CBO says the deficit might still reach $200 billion, though recent trends suggest a lower figure. Impressive tax receipts during the April filing season prompted the more optimistic estimates. This year's April receipts ran $70-billion higher than last year. Through the first seven months of the budget year, which ends Sept. 30, the government has posted an $83-billion deficit, about $100-million less than during a comparable period last fiscal year. The government registered a $248-billion deficit in 2006.

Terrorist gun bill has familiar foe

The National Rifle Association is urging the Bush administration to withdraw its support of a bill that would prohibit suspected terrorists from buying firearms. Backed by the Justice Department, the measure would give the attorney general the discretion to block gun sales, licenses or permits to terror suspects. In a letter this week to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, NRA executive director Chris Cox said the bill, offered last week by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., "would allow arbitrary denial of Second Amendment rights based on mere 'suspicions' of a terrorist threat." Current law provides no legal basis to deny a sale if a purchaser is on a terror watch list. A 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office found that 35 of 44 firearm purchase attempts over a five-month period by known or suspected terrorists were approved by federal law enforcement officials.

Bush vows veto of abortion bills

President Bush is warning Democratic leaders that any attempt to weaken federal policies that restrict abortion will be met with a veto. White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said Friday that the warning, issued in letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, was intended to stop abortion amendments from being added to spending bills and other legislation that Congress will be considering in the coming weeks. "I will veto any legislation that weakens current federal policies and laws on abortion, or that encourages the destruction of human life at any stage, " Bush wrote. Bush has already threatened to veto legislation, passed by the House and Senate in different forms this year, that would ease restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem cell research.

JUNEAU, ALASKA

3 charged with helping oil firm

One current and two former Alaska legislators were arrested Friday and indicted on charges they accepted bribes - including cash and a job offer in Barbados for one man - to support legislation favorable to an oil services company. Rep. Victor Kohring, Pete Kott and Bruce Weyhrauch, all Republicans, face charges of extortion, bribery, fraud and other crimes in trying to help VECO Corp. "You'll get your gas line, the governor gets his bill, and I'll get my job in Barbados, " Kott told company executives during a teleconference, the indictment states.

[Last modified May 5, 2007, 00:55:00]


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