Barack Obama has warned tough choices will have to be made to get the US back in order as his administration unveils its first ever budget.
Forecasting the biggest deficit since World War Two, the US president slammed his predecessor for what he described as a lack of transparency. “In keeping with my commitment to make our government more open and transparent, this budget is an honest accounting of where we are and where we intend to go. For too long, our budget has not told the whole truth about how precious tax dollars are spent. Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Obama. Top priorities will be banks, renewable energies, healthcare, education and defence, making up a total budget of 3.55 trillion dollars. The budget sets aside a multi-billion dollar package as a “placeholder” in case Obama decides to ask Congress for more money in the current fiscal year to help the ailing financial system. It also includes billions in revenues, starting in 2012, from a greenhouse gas emissions trading system, one of the president’s key proposals to fight global warming. On healthcare, the document outlines a 10-year reserve fund to help pay for proposed reforms, which include expanding care to the 46 million uninsured Americans. On education, the US president said his budget supports an “historic investment” that he says is part of his stimulus plan. And although the proposed budget would slightly increase US defence spending, the administration anticipates big savings over the coming years in a range of areas, including defence.