Test 3

The office’s estimates of deficits in the fiscal years 2010 through 2019 “exceed those anticipated by the administration by $2.3 trillion.”

The deficits under the Obama plan would be $4.9 trillion more than the projected deficits if there were no changes in current laws and policies — what the nonpartisan budget office calls its baseline assumption.

The startling new figures have enormous implications, political as well as fiscal. They are certain to bring new expressions of alarm and dismay from deficit hawks on Capitol Hill, where the president’s $3.6 trillion budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins in October, has already stirred debate.

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President Obama’s budget director, Peter R. Orszag, conceded in a news briefing on Friday that annual deficits of 4 to 5 percent of gross domestic product, as envisioned in the office’s report, are “ultimately not sustainable.”

But Mr. Orszag insisted that administration officials “remain confident” in what he called “the four key principles” of the president’s budget outline: health care reform, improvements in education, energy efficiency, and reducing the annual deficit in half by the end of the president’s first term from the extraordinary levels it has suddenly reached because of the bailout and stimulus spending this year.

Mr. Orszag said he was confident that those goals will all be accomplished in whatever budget resolution emerges after negotiations with Congress. Asked about recent statements by Senator Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who heads the Budget Committee, that the president’s spending plans might have to be adjusted downward, Mr. Orszag said it was always assumed that there would be negotiations. “It’s not like the process would have them just Xerox and vote on it,” he said.

As for the differences among various budget projections, Mr. Orszag attributed them in part to small percentages — such as divergent assumptions about the rate of economic growth — that, when applied to huge numbers, can produce eye-popping contrasts.

The new estimates will reignite the debate over whether the president’s spending plans are far too ambitious, given the state of the economy, or just what is needed to address systemic problems.

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~ by coatschristopher on March 20, 2009.

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