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U.S. spending obligations surge

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Moreover, last week the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projected the US budget deficit for the next fiscal year to be $482 billion, the largest deficit in US history in nominal terms.

Relative to the size of the US economy, the deficit would make up 3.3 percent of the gross domestic product. OMB director Jim Nussle noted during the July 28 mid-session review that, in those terms, the projection is "well below the record deficit of all time, which was 6 percent of GDP back in 1983."

"The important point to remember is that near-term deficits are both temporary and manageable if, and only if, we keep spending in check, the tax burden low, and the economy growing," Mr. Nussle said. "Excessive spending beyond the president's budget plan will make the problem worse."

Congress has yet to approve even one of the must-pass annual spending bills for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Democratic lawmakers blame the soaring deficit on the Bush tax cuts, especially for people with the highest incomes.

"Mr. Bush came to office with the biggest surpluses in history and he will leave office with the biggest deficits in history. That's the bottom line," said Rep. John Spratt Jr. (D) of South Carolina, chair of the House Budget Committee, on July 28.

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