President Bush's Fiscal 2004 Budget
Record Deficits Projected in White House Blueprint

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Projected budget deficits
President Bush's budget projects a $307-billion deficit for fiscal 2004 and no return to surplus for the next several years.
Graphic: Erik Dunham,; Source: Office of Management and Budget

"Government cannot manage or control the economy. But government can remove the barriers blocking stronger economic growth. My plan will give Americans more tools to achieve that growth."

President Bush, in his fiscal 2004 budget message

Copies of the fiscal 2004 budget.
Copies of the fiscal 2004 budget are distributed to journalists upon its release at the Government Printing Office.
Photo: Copyright 2003 Reuters Limited

"Instead of offering the nation a plan for long-term economic prosperity, the Bush budget burdens us, and our children, with trillions of dollars of new debt."

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee

Feb. 4, 2003 -- President Bush's $2.23-trillion budget, sent to Congress on Monday, proposes increased funding for defense and homeland security while calling for $670 billion in income tax cuts over 10 years to stimulate the economy. It also projects a record $307 billion deficit in fiscal 2004 and continued shortfalls through 2008.

Mr. Bush said the 4-percent increase in spending this year is about as much as family incomes are expected to grow. For Morning Edition, NPR's David Welna reports on the overall budget, while NPR's Julie Rovner examines the president's proposals for Medicare and Medicaid.

"The budget for 2004 meets the challenges posed by three national priorities: winning the war against terrorism, securing the homeland, and generating long-term economic growth," the president said in his budget message to Congress.

The White House projects the proposed tax cuts will average $1,083 for 92 million Americans and will create 2.1 million jobs.

Congressional Democrats criticized the president's plan for returning the nation to deep budget deficits and failing to shore up Social Security.

The Bush budget includes:

• A 4.2-percent increase in defense spending -- that's on top of double-digit increase for the military last year. The number would increase significantly if there's a war with Iraq.

• $41 billion for homeland security, including $890 million to develop new vaccines for smallpox, anthrax and botulinum toxin.

• $89 billion in health care tax credits. The budget also proposes new tax-free savings accounts that could be used for health care needs and long-term care.

• $400 billion over 10 years to modernize the Medicare program and include a prescription drug benefit.

• A 5.3-percent boost in funding for the Internal Revenue Service, and a provision allowing the IRS to use private collection agencies to help collect unpaid taxes.

White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels downplayed the significance of the fiscal 2004 deficit projection.

"Any way you measure this deficit, it is moderate," Daniels said, noting that the amount equals to 2.7 percent of gross domestic product.

Other Resources

Review President Bush's proposed budget at the White House Office of Management Budget.

See highlights of the president's budget.

Read a White House "fact sheet" on the budget.

Read the president's budget message submitted with his fiscal 2004 outline.

Read a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the budget and economic outlook.

Read the reaction of the Senate Budget Committee's Democratic Caucus to the president's budget.

Read the reaction of House Budget Committee Democrats to the Bush plan.