WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush sent Congress Monday a $3.11 trillion budget request that projects a deeper deficit than expected over the next two years but projects a balanced federal budget by 2012.
A key Democratic senator said the spending plan "will be quickly forgotten."
In the short term, under the president's proposal, the deficit for next year is already estimated at $407 billion. The current year deficit was originally supposed to be only $162 billion, but has shot up to a projected $410 billion because of added war costs and other supplemental expenses. This formal request for Fiscal Year 2009, which begins October 1, asks for a 6 percent more in total government spending.
"The primary reason for increasing deficits in the near term is the president's economic growth package and an expected slowing of receipt growth, due to an expected reduction in corporate tax receipts from recent record highs," according to the to the budget request.
The president is asking for $515 billion in defense spending, which does not yet include most of costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (those amounts will come in supplemental requests later).
Nevertheless, the White House says it expects the deficit to fall to $160 billion in fiscal 2010 and reach a surplus of $48 billion in 2012.
"With pro-growth policies and spending discipline, we will balance the budget in 2012, keep the tax burden low, and provide for our national security," Bush wrote to lawmakers in a budget letter.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., the Democratic chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said in a statement that the Bush budget "will be quickly forgotten." Conrad notes that the budget leaves out large costs from Iraq and Afghanistan war fighting and does not include any relief from the alternative minimum tax beyond 2008.
The administration is proposing cuts in entitlements, mostly from cuts in Medicare spending, of $16 billion next year and $619 billion over 10 years.
The administration's five-year forecast assumes that Congress will extend Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. These cuts are due to expire by about 2011 unless extended by Congress.
– Senior producer Scott Spoerry