Balanced Budget Possible, White House Official Says

Audio Excerpts

Rob Portman, director of the White House Office of Budget and Management on:

A balanced federal budget is possible over the short term, even while continuing the Bush tax cuts and funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says Rob Portman, director of the White House Office of Budget and Management.

President Bush's new budget is to be submitted to Congress on Feb. 5.

Portman says prospects for a balanced budget are good. President Bush has come out in favor of a balanced budget, and response has been positive from both sides of the aisle.

Also, Portman says that the growing economy has led to increased tax revenues. That, coupled with "better constraint" on spending, has led to a situation where the spending and revenues may come together over the next five years.

"It's not easy. It's going to require prioritizing and making some tough decisions," Portman says.

Portman says the Office of Budget and Management has proposed a strategy that focuses "big" on both mandatory spending and so-called discretionary spending, which is the annually appropriated spending for agencies, departments and programs, and that continues the Bush tax-relief plan that was voted on in 2001 and 2003.

He says there was a "correlation" between the full implementation of the tax cuts in 2003 and increases in employment and economic growth. He says it is possible to continue the cuts while paying for the costs of the global war on terrorism, including Iraq.

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