President Bush holds a laptop computer showing the electronic version of his 2009 budget
This week, President Bush sent Congress the final budget of his presidency. The spending plan for two thousand nine would give the federal government its first budget over three trillion dollars. Deficit spending would come close to the record of four hundred thirteen billion dollars in two thousand four. But the administration predicts a balanced budget by two thousand twelve.The budget proposal for next year includes increases for the departments of defense and homeland security.It calls for spending seventy billion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the full cost for the year is expected to be higher. The president has been providing money for the wars through emergency spending measures.The administration proposes cuts in the growth of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is government health insurance for older people; Medicaid pays for medical care for the poor. The move is unpopular in Congress. But White House Budget Director Jim Nussle says the budget reduces growth in these programs to a level the nation can afford. The president's budget includes a short-term economic growth plan. It also includes an extension of tax cuts, along with assistance for homeowners and more spending for scientific research.Democrats say the budget spends too little on important services -- and too much when it comes to increasing the national debt. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad says total debts were about six trillion dollars at the end of the president's first year. At the end of eight years in office, he says, that number is expected to rise above ten trillion.Conservatives in President Bush's Republican Party also criticize the growth in government spending. He entered office with a budget surplus in January of two thousand one. But his budget director notes that the United States later suffered terrorist attacks and natural disasters that required spending more.The new budget year begins October first. Generally, a lot of changes are made in the last budget of a president who is leaving office. This is true especially when Congress is governed by the opposition party.For the first time, Congress received the president's budget request in electronic form. Lawmakers and members of the public can buy traditional printed copies of the huge document if they wish.And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. For transcripts and MP3s of our reports, go to voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.