Bush: Freeze domestic spending to pay for war

President Bush’s 2009 budget will virtually freeze most domestic programs and seek nearly $200 billion in savings from federal health care programs, a senior administration official said Thursday.

Overall, the Bush budget will exceed $3 trillion, this official said. The deficit is expected to reach about $400 billion for this year and next.

Bush on Monday will present his proposed budget for the new fiscal year to Congress, where it’s unlikely to gain much traction in the midst of a presidential campaign. The president has promised a plan that would erase the budget deficit by 2012 if his policies are followed.

To that end, Bush will propose nearly $178 billion in savings from Medicare over five years_ nearly triple what he proposed last year. Much of the savings would come from freezing reimbursement rates for most health care providers for three years. An additional $17 billion would come from the Medicaid program, the state-federal partnership that provides health coverage to the poor.

The budget for most domestic programs funded by Congress will look similar to last year’s, according to the official, from the Office of Management and Budget.

“It’s a very small increase,” he said. “Very small.”

A second administration official said domestic discretionary spending would increase by less than 1 percent under Bush’s proposal.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the budget has not yet been released

In his State of the Union address Monday, Bush said his budget envisioned a surplus in 2012. “American families have to balance their budgets, and so should their government,” he said.

The federal government is expected to spend about $650 billion on Medicare and Medicaid in 2008. It represents more than $1 out of every $5 spent by the federal government.

The OMB official said the president views the budget as a final opportunity to slow the growth of entitlement programs but recognizes that Congress probably won’t go along.

He said spending on Medicare would increase under Bush’s new budget, but not as quickly as had been expected. “Medicare will grow at 5 percent. It just won’t grow over 7 percent,” he said.

Savings also would come by charging wealthier people higher monthly premiums for Medicare’s drug program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the Bush budget would project the 10-year cost of the program, from 2008 to 2017, at $915 billion. That’s $117 billion less than what had been forecast last summer. The agency attributed the lower estimate to smaller increases in the cost of medicines, and better deals negotiated between insurers and drug manufacturers.

The agency said 25.4 million people were now enrolled in a Medicare drug plan.

Bush last year asked Congress for nearly $65 billion in Medicare savings over five years. Congress refused to go along.

Independent experts have warned that the government needs to address the rising cost of health care for businesses to stay competitive and for the government to be able to pay for other important programs in the decades ahead.

“In fact, if there is one thing that could bankrupt America, it’s runaway health care costs. We must not allow that to happen,” David M. Walker, the U.S. comptroller general, told lawmakers Tuesday during a congressional hearing.

But Democrats said Bush’s budget targets the wrong health care providers for cuts. They said insurers subsidized to provide Medicare coverage are being overpaid.

“The president is proposing to once again slash health care coverage for seniors and low-income working Americans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “The president’s cuts are exactly the wrong medicine when the cost of health care and the number of uninsured continue to rise and families are feeling economically insecure.”

Health care providers said the president’s recommendations would make it harder for them to meet expenses, which would continue to rise as a result of inflation, even as their reimbursement rates were frozen.

“That level of reduction is so outrageous that it will be summarily rejected by members of both parties in Congress,” said Tom Nickels, senior vice president of federal relations for the American Hospital Association. “I don’t think it will be taken seriously.”


  1. anthny

    I used to think when Bush would do things like this that he had a plan to ruin the country. Today I still am confused about the whys and wheres of Bush’s Brain.
    Does he have of clue that everytime he opens his mouth he causes millions dollars of damage to the lowly citizens of our country.
    Did not his mother teach him compassion and empathy for his fellow man and women. Does he not care what he is doing to his country of birth.
    Or does Mr. Bush believe that the world is ending and he will help push it over the cliff before it’s time.
    The Mayan Calander ends in 2012 and most Christans beleive that these are the end times. But even if these are the end times there are still people suffering because of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts for the corporations and the rich. And if he believed at all any of Christ’s teachings that do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    So the question in my one brain cell mind is should I care about empthy and compassion or just talk the talk and not walk that very hard walk of doing something for the poor affected country people who have nothing positive in there future.
    Charity begins at home………………

  2. barak

    Salvation cometh in the guise of politicians fighting to be elected! Hallelujah!!!!!!
    The closer we get to the November election, the better the chance that our elected representatives might,just might, listen to We The People for a change. That would mean that they stop funding the sewers of Iraq and Afghanistan, adamantly refuse to allow a military action against Iran, and start pouring THAT MONEY into the crumbling infrastructure of this, THEIR and OUR country.
    How sad that they continue to allow the excuse that we must support our troops. Of course we must, every American agrees. But to fund a failed, fake, and flippant war instead of bringing the soldiers home, well, that is not just stupid, its criminal. Cutting domestic health programs solves nothing except a burgeoning senior population. Why not just give us the guns and let us go to Iraq and Afghanistan to make the peace? We know how to do that better than our current army for we fought and lived through Korea and Vietnam, much more ‘true’ wars than the self-created targets that our military has come to provide for the insurgents. Don’t worry either, many of us are at death’s door already, so being in harm’s way in the middle East isn’t much worse and is much quicker than facing the vegetative state of rotting in a nursing home, or secumbing to heart failure, strokes, cancer, kidney failure or all those quick-to-say and slow-to-kill diseases and illnesses.
    Give me a M16 or whatever M the soldiers are using that I can still lift, throw in a pound of good weed, and I’ll pacify any area in anywhere that you choose. Give me 20 kgs of ganja and I’ll pacify Mozhul in 3 days. And I’ll create immeasurable good will for our country, and a booming market for Doritos to boot!
    If this sounds crazy, so does throwing more money into Iraq. If this sounds illegal, so does being in Iraq.
    If it sounds cruel, well, look at how we destroyed the beautiful cities of Iraq.
    If it sounds pretentious, then dammit, YOU come up with a better, safer, and quicker solution. AND a cheaper one.
    If it doesn’t sound crazy,illegal, cruel, or pretentious, then pass the grass and toss the ammunition. It ain’t my brother and its too damn heavy.

  3. sawbuck

    The 51% of Americans who voted for this a-hole not once, but twice, deserve everything they get (or lose……). They branded Kerry a liar, when he put on a uniform and went. They had their drawers in an knot over gay marraige, terry schiavo and flag burning, and got zilch for their efforts. Now they can lose their frikken health care, pensions, schools, benefits and live under bridges for all I care. The problem is that those of us who knew this guy was a complete farce, and a front for the pnac chickenhawks, have to suffer the consequences of their simple minded hatefulness. And the Hannitys, Limbaughs and Coulters who egged them on and filled their minds with b.s. walk away with their millions and let’s see if they bail them out.

    And what is the answer to this mess? More tax cuts, print more money, lower interest rates, sell more debt. Can anyone say Germany, 1939. Buy a wheelbarrow to carry around your money, you’re going to need one when the dollar is worth 2 cents. And still, they’ll find a way to blame the democrats, who are too spineless to say ‘this emperor has no clothes’.

  4. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    The American public have been in the Presidents Reichstag pocket since Reichstag-II happened in 2001. The Democrappers are Crapping in our faces, enabling the destruction of social safety nets. Democrappers, whether Pillary or Obama, are merly Neo-Con Lite. Pillary & Obama are dedicated to keeping the occupation and the Neo-Cons in the money. America is Dead. So Instead of Stabbing America all the way with a Knife, the Democrappers will only stab us with 3/4’s of the Knife instead of it all.!!!

  5. Carl Nemo

    Bush is coming on like a fiscal conservative hero, rhymes with zero, to the American people because of his freeze on “earmarks”. Unfortunately the money he plans on saving us; he and Cheney plan on stealing outright; ie., the last remaining cash stores in the U.S. Treasury prior to leaving office funneling them to their corporate MIC patrons in Iraq…!

    I hope this freeze by fiat; ie., Executive Order is the catalyst that turns our Congressional nest of vipers on these two sob’s asses! Hopefully they’l finally realize that it’s time to take out “Little Boots” ie., Caligula and his horse “Incitatus”, Cheney, via impeachment; in fact both of them regardless of it being an election year.

    These two greedy fools have tried to take “pork”, the meal of choice away from our Congressional hyena’s a very stupid act of self-immolation indeed… 😐

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. Janet

    I used to think when Bush would do things like this that he had a plan to ruin the country. Today I still am confused about the whys and wheres of Bush’s Brain.”

    Your mistake is in assuming Bush HAS a brain.

    It’s to the point where I hate Bush so much, I can’t wait until he is out of office. I just wish they would impeach him and Cheney and put them both behind bars for the rest of their lives for what they have done to the American people, to the Iraqis, to the whole world.

  7. LurkingFromTheLeft

    He HAS one –

    …he just doesn’t use it as it was designed or for the purpose it was intended –