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Obama Proposes $3.5 Trillion Budget for 2010

President aims to cut huge deficit in half by end of first term; wants to raise taxes on wealthy, invest in health care reform. Republicans see too much government spending at a time of crisis. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

President Barack Obama on Thursday proposed his first budget to Congress. He wants to let the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans end next year, replaced by a middle-class tax cut.

His other proposals include six hundred thirty-four billion dollars over ten years for health care reform. But he hopes to raise billions through a system in which businesses that release greenhouse gases would buy and trade pollution permits.

In all, his plan calls for three and a half trillion dollars in federal spending for the two thousand ten budget year starting in October. It also predicts for this year the biggest deficit, as a share of the economy, since World War Two: one trillion seven hundred fifty billion dollars.

But the president says he inherited a trillion-dollar deficit. And he says his team has already identified two trillion dollars in reductions to help cut the deficit in half within four years. Targets include war spending and direct payments to large agricultural businesses.

Republicans say the budget is too big and that the proposed tax increase on the wealthy would hurt small businesses.

The new president gave his first speech to Congress Tuesday night.

BARACK OBAMA: "We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."

He discussed the seven hundred eighty-seven billion dollars in spending and tax cuts that he signed into law last week.

BARACK OBAMA: "Over the next two years, this plan will save or create three-point-five million jobs. More than ninety percent of these jobs will be in the private sector -- jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, laying broadband and expanding mass transit."

He also discussed his budget plan for next year, saying Congress will need to sacrifice some programs but think long term.

BARACK OBAMA: "That is why, even as it cuts back on programs we don't need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care and education."

To answer for the opposition, the Republicans chose Bobby Jindal, the young governor of Louisiana and the son of Indian immigrants. He said Republicans want to work with the president. But he said Democrats in Congress chose "irresponsible" spending over tax cuts, as Republicans proposed for the economic recovery plan.

BOBBY JINDAL: "It includes three hundred million dollars to buy new cars for the government, eight billion dollars for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and one hundred forty million dollars for something called 'volcano monitoring.' Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C."

Stock prices in the United States hit twelve-year lows this week.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.