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Obama's promises face a rough road ahead

A government mired in debt combined with a recession will make the path to recovery difficult for the president-elect.

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President-elect Barack Obama warned in his Chicago victory speech that the "road ahead will be long." His goals, he said, may not be reached "in one year or even one term."

Budget experts say, "Amen."

A deeply troubled economy, they hold, won't allow Mr. Obama to raise taxes in 2009 to start paying for his ambitious plans to improve healthcare, education, infrastructure, and other areas.

"No one will raise taxes in times of an economic downturn," notes Stan Collender, a veteran fiscal analyst with Qorvis Communications in Washington. He doubts that a tax hike will even be talked about much in 2009.

"It's politically difficult to raise taxes at any time," adds Brian Riedl, a budget expert at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington.

The Concord Coalition, a Washington group pushing for responsible budgets, cautions: "Campaign promises will bump up against reality."

Without 60 votes in the Senate to override a filibuster, Obama may not even get Congress to quickly pass his campaign proposal to raise taxes on the rich. His goal of spreading wealth around a bit may have to await until the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010.

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