WASHINGTON – Responding to an election-season request by Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office (search) estimated Thursday that some of President Bush's budget policies plus other costs would add $1.3 trillion to federal deficits over the next decade.
Republicans said the exercise was a blatantly political attempt by Democrats to use the nonpartisan budget office's projections to attack Bush and the GOP.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," said Rich Meade, Republican staff director of the House Budget Committee (search), referring to Democrats' unlikely chances of capturing House control in the November elections.
White House budget office spokesman Chad Kolton said while Bush's fiscal blueprint addresses terrorism and economic growth, Democrats want "tax hikes and trillions in additional spending, and all the politicized reports in the world can't paper over that fact."
Democrats said the figures provided a telling depiction of how Bush's tax and spending plans -- along with other looming costs -- would drive huge projected deficits even higher.
"There is no credible way to dispute the fundamental conclusion that this administration's policies call for large deficits with no plan or prospect of bringing the budget back to balance," said Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, who requested the calculations.
The congressional analysts said they expect deficits to total $2.3 trillion in the decade ending in 2014 if current tax and spending laws continue unchanged. They have projected that the shortfall will hit a record $422 billion this year alone, with the government's budget year running through Sept. 30.
The red ink would total almost $3.6 trillion over 10 years under the assumptions that Spratt asked them to calculate, the congressional analysts said.
Those assumptions included:
--Bush's plan to extend expiring tax cuts and his other tax-cut proposals;
--The costs of keeping the alternative minimum tax (search), designed to ensure that the wealthy owe some taxes, from affecting growing numbers of middle-income earners. Bush's budget ignored those expenses;
--Bush's proposed spending restraints on most domestic programs;
--A gradual reduction of U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's budget proposed nothing for those activities.
Under that scenario, projected annual shortfalls during the decade would drop no lower than $312 billion in 2006, rising gradually to $439 billion in 2014, the congressional analysts calculated.