Even if the United States saved billions of dollars by withdrawing all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, President Bush would still be unlikely to fulfill his promise to reduce the federal budget deficit by half within five years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday. In the final independent assessment of Mr. Bush's fiscal policies before the November election, the Congressional agency predicted that, if no existing laws changed, the federal deficit would see a much smaller decline, to $312 billion in 2009 from a record of $422 billion in 2004. Vice President Dick Cheney, campaigning in Des Moines, said the report's projected deficit for the current year was about $56 billion less than earlier predicted. "That's a direct result of economic growth that came about as a result of the tax changes that the president put through, and the Congress supported," Mr. Cheney said. Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, said in a statement, "Only George W. Bush could celebrate over a record budget deficit." Over the next 10 years, the budget office said, the federal debt could swell by $4.9 trillion and climb rapidly after that as the nation's baby boomers start to draw Social Security and Medicare, informs the NYTimes. Imagine piling up thousands of dollars in new credit-card bills — while insisting with a straight face that the family's finances are just fine. That's the Bush administration's response to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report Tuesday that the federal government will take on $2.3 trillion more debt through 2014, or $20,000 per household. Rather than focus on the coming tidal wave of red ink, the administration took heart from the fact that this year's deficit — while still a record $422 billion — is coming in 12% lower than previously expected because of stronger economic growth. Just as disturbing as President Bush's "don't worry, be happy" fiscal mind-set is the fact that his Democratic rival John Kerry is on the same wavelength. Each is touting election-year tax cuts and new spending that would add to the heavy financial burden already placed on future generations. Kerry and Bush murmur about cutting the annual budget shortfall in half in four or five years, but they have failed to offer credible spending cuts and tax increases to achieve such goals, USATODAY.
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