Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bush proposes cuts in health, domestic progams; Debt remains his legacy

With less than a year until he leaves the White House, President Bush is proposing deep cuts in health programs while allowing virtually no increase for other domestic priorities in his final budget.

Kevin Freking of the Associated Press, citing a senior administration official, reports that the budget "will virtually freeze most domestic programs."

Nonetheless, economists predict the president has saddled his successor with near-crippling debt that could threaten the US credit rating for the first time in more than 90 years.

"Despite his efforts, Mr. Bush failed to work out a deal with Congress to tackle the spiraling costs of government health and retirement programs," report the Wall Street Journal's Michael M. Phillips and John D. McKinnon. "The next president, if he or she serves two terms, could find the U.S. government so deeply in hock that it would face losing its Triple-A credit rating, something that has never happened since Moody's Investors Service began grading U.S. securities in 1917."

Bush has proposed nearly $200 billion in cuts to Medicaid and Medicare as part of his $3 trillion budget to be unveiled Monday, and he will provide miniscule increases in spending on other domestic programs.

"It's a very small increase," an Office of Management and Budget official tells the Associated Press. "Very small."

The deficit is expected to reach $400 billion in the next budget, adding to what Philips and McKinnon call the "trail of deficits and debt" Bush is leaving in his wake.