WASHINGTON - President Bush proposed a $3.1 trillion budget yesterday that includes big increases in military spending, major cuts in payments to healthcare providers, and extensions of tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans. Bush, who inherited a budget surplus, said he expects a near-record deficit of $407 billion when he leaves office next year.
Bush sought to increase Pentagon spending by 7.5 percent, to $515 billion - plus $70 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the coming year. At the same time, Bush proposed cuts in 151 government programs, such as grants for elders' food services and community services for the poor, and reduced spending in several others - including significant reductions in Medicare and Medicaid. Spending in many other programs was frozen.
"The budget protects America and encourages economic growth," the president said, urging Congress to pass the budget quickly. He added that the plan reflects that "our top priority is to defend our country, so we fund our military, as well as fund the homeland security."