New deficit projections pose risks to Obama’s agenda
Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:06am EDT
By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) President Barack Obama’s domestic policy proposals will face the reality of skyrocketing deficits on Tuesday when officials release two government reports projecting huge budget shortfalls over the next decade.
The White House budget office and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan arm of Congress, release updated economic forecasts and deficit estimates on Tuesday, providing further fiscal fodder to opponents of Obama’s nearly $1 trillion healthcare overhaul plan.
Many of the figures are already known.
The White House has confirmed that its deficit estimate for the 2009 fiscal year, which ends September 30, will inch down to $1.58 trillion from $1.84 trillion after eliminating billions of dollars originally set aside for bank rescues.
Looking forward, an administration official told Reuters the 10-year budget deficit projection will jump by about $2 trillion to roughly $9 trillion from an original forecast of $7.1 trillion.
“One message the numbers will send is that the medium- and long-term deficits need to be addressed,” said Chuck Marr, director of federal tax policy at the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an analysis and research organization.
Obama has promised to do that. The president, a Democrat, says he will cut the deficit in half by the end of his four-year term, and he sees lowering healthcare costs as a key ingredient toward achieving long-term deficit reduction.
But Republicans charge that his proposals to extend coverage to uninsured Americans and create competition for private insurance providers are too expensive, especially as deficits go up