Budget outlook worse, raising cries on both sides
Deficits: Congressional report foresees red ink over next decade
BY ALAN FRAM The Associated Press: Jan. 27, 2004

  WASHINGTON - The governments, budget outlook deteriorated further on, Monday as the Congressional Budget Office projected nearly, $2.4 trillion in deficits over the next decade, providing new fuel for an election year battle over soaring federal shortfalls.
  Along with the forecast, almost $1 trillion worse than estimated in August, Congress' nonpartisan fiscal watchdog said this year's deficit would hit $477 billion. That would be a record in dollar terms.
  Although the report envisioned red ink ebbing to $362 billion next year and receding thereafter, it stirred up Democrats, who blame President Bush for squandering the unprecedented surpluses of just three years ago; and conservative Republicans, who say he has let the budget spin out of control.
  “He's been completely irresponsible,” presidential hopeful Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) said in New Hampshire, underscoring Democrats’ hopes that the issue is catching on. "We can’t afford four more years of the right wing Republican administration," candidate Howard Dean said. “Republicans don’t balance budgets; Democrats do.”
  “These budget deficits as far as the eye can see are the predictable result of a president and Congress spending taxpayer dollars with reckless abandon,” said Brian Riedl, who studies the budget for the conservative Heritage Foundation.
  The highest deficit ever was last year's $375 billion.
  Bush sends Congress his $2.3 trillion budget for 2005 next Monday. It will propose holding nondefense, nondomestic security spending to about 0.5 percent growth, with a goal of halving deficits by 2009.
  “The president has a plan to cut the deficit in half over the next five years, and that's what we intend to do,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.
  The national debt, the running total the government owes its debt holders, is more than $7 trillion, including money it owes its own Social Security and other trust funds
  The budget office projected that for the decade ending in 2013, the red ink will total $2.38 trillion. That was $986 billion worse than it projected in August a trillion deeper than it projected only a year ago.