Saturday, March 7, 2009

Obama unveils his $3.6tn budget

President Barack Obama has unveiled a $3.6tn (£2.5tn) budget for 2010, aiming to pull the US out of financial crisis.

He has predicted the budget deficit for the current year will be $1.75tn, which is 12.3% of annual output and the biggest since World War II.

Planned spending includes $634bn to pay for healthcare reform and an extra $250bn to be set aside, in case it is needed to bail out US banks.

Mr Obama hopes to save money by cutting subsidies and tax breaks.

These announcements are an overview. There will be more details in April.

The $3.6tn of planned spending is still well below the spending of $3.7tn, which is forecast for the year to the end of September 2008 and includes economic stimulus packages.

Eliminate waste

The president promised to roll back tax cuts for the very wealthy and businesses that move jobs overseas.

He added that instead, he would bring in tax cuts that would benefit 95% of hard-working families.

"There are some hard choices that lie ahead," he said, adding that there were areas where the government would like to spend money in normal economic times, but would be unable to at the moment.

"Each and every one of us has to compromise on certain things we care about, but which we simply cannot afford right now," he said.

He predicted that some of his decisions would be unpopular with special interest lobbying groups in Washington.

Healthcare subsidies

He also promised that his budgets would be an honest accounting of the country's economic situation and include "the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan".

He projected spending of $200bn to fight those two wars over the next 18 months.

There are expected to be savings from the winding-down of the war in Iraq, but increased spending as a result of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

The president said he would introduce a scheme to give a subsidy to recently-unemployed people to help them maintain their healthcare funding.

Providing easier access to healthcare was one of his key election promises.

He has promised to halve the budget deficit by the end of his term in 2013 and said one of the ways he would do so would be by cutting back on waste in government.

"We're going to go through our books page by page, line by line to eliminate waste and inefficiency," he said.

"This is a process that will take time, but in the last 30 days alone, we have already identified $2tn in deficit reductions that will help us cut our deficit in half by the end of my first term."