Defense Funding At Top of President Bush's Budget

There's a blizzard of whopping dollar figures in the federal budget, but President Bush said today that his blueprint keeps the economy growing, puts the nation on the path to a balanced budget, and keeps Americans safe.

"Our top priority is to defend our country. So, we fund our military, as well as fund the Homeland Security," he said.

The president asks for a 7.5 percent increase in Defense Department spending, which would then top $515 billion. That figure does not include full funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could total $200 billion.

Funding for Homeland Security would increase nearly 7 percent, including a big boost for border security and immigration enforcement. Then, there is the $145 billion economic stimulus package, which gives tax rebates to millions of Americans.

"The president asked me to present a budget that addresses a number of his top priorities," director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jim Nussle, said. "And obviously, those are addressing the immediate economic challenges that our country is facing."

The losers in the president's budget are federal health care programs. The budget slashes billions of dollars in the growth of those programs. Medicare and Medicaid would be cut by almost $200 billion by freezing reimbursement rates for health care providers, and limiting the money hospitals will receive for treating the uninsured.

Even with these cuts, the deficit would be $407 billion, a major political hurdle.

"We will not be held hostage by President Bush," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today. "He won't be president next time this year."

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