Amid distractions from the weekend's space shuttle tragedy and a looming war with Iraq, President Bush unveiled his 2004 budget proposal this morning.
Here's a quick summary:
The $2.32 trillion spending plan projects revenue of $1.92 trillion, leaving a deficit of over $300 billion. The total deficit would reach $1.08 trillion over the next five years.
The president proposes a $670 billion economic stimulus in the form of tax cuts, including the elimination of the double taxation of stock dividends. Altogether, the president's new tax cuts would add up to $1.3 trillion over the next decade, on top of a $1.35 trillion tax reduction already passed in 2001.
The defense budget would increase by 4.2%, or $15.3 billion, to $379.9 billion. That represents half of the $30 billion in new money the president seeks for the operation of all federal agencies, not including Social Security or Medicare.
The budget for NASA would increase by $500 million to $15.47 billion. The space shuttle program would receive a 24% increase to $3.97 billion. These numbers were finalized before Saturday's tragedy.
- Education spending would increase $2.8 billion to $53.1 billion.
The verdict on the budget proposal varies, depending on political views and tolerance for budget deficits. The plan is drawing predictable opposition from Democrats, such as Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota: "He's passing the buck to our children. It's stunning how much debt he's going to add."
"Compared to the overall federal budget and the $10.5 trillion national economy, our budget gap is small by historical standards," the president counters.
Expect the proposal to undergo intense debate in the months to come as it wends its way through Congress.