The US budget deficit for the current year will be about four times that of last year, reflecting government spending to ease the deep recession. The huge increase could hinder US President Barack Obama’s hopes of reforming health care, energy and education.
The deficit reflects government spending to bail out Wall Street and the banks, as well as Obama’s economic stimulus bill.
Obama, while acknowledging his reforms will cost large chunks of money, defends the deficit on the grounds that he inherited a massive amount of red ink from the previous administration.
The deficit is now forecast to climb by US$89 billion to US$1.84 trillion in the fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30, meaning the government will be borrowing US$0.46 for every US$1 needed to run the government under the Obama administration’s plan.
In one of the few positive signs to emerge in the period of deep global recession, the actual 2009 deficit was likely to be US$250 billion less than predicted because Congress is unlikely to provide another US$250 billion in financial bailout money.
Meanwhile, the White House proposed on Monday to raise nearly US$60 billion by closing tax loopholes including those related to the estate tax. It also revived a bid to cap deductions wealthy individuals can claim.
Funds raised from the estate tax and other changes would beef up a reserve fund of US$634 billion that Obama wants to use to revamp health care and expand insurance to tens of millions of Americans who lack it.
The proposals “take on what we believe are a series of unjustifiable loopholes, unjustifiable tax breaks that we simply can not afford,” said a senior administration official who could not be identified under the ground rules of a briefing for reporters.
ONGOING PROBE: A former Military Intelligence Bureau colonel, major general and another colonel, as well as five other people, have been questioned by prosecutors The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that a retired colonel from the Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) calling himself Taiwan’s “first special agent” be detained and held incommunicado as part of an ongoing investigation into espionage allegations targeting at least three former bureau officials. The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office was seeking to detain former MIB colonel Chang Chao-jan (張超然) over his alleged involvement in introducing retired agents to Chinese national security authorities and passing confidential documents to China. Chang’s actions, if proven, would contravene the National Security Act (國家安全法), which carries a prison term of three to 10 years, and the National Intelligence
The US House of Representatives’ China Task Force, launched by Republicans earlier this year, yesterday proposed the China task force act, a package of 137 pieces of legislation, seven of which involve Taiwan, in the hope of getting it passed before the 117th US Congress convenes on Jan. 3. The act encompasses a wide range of issues, including combatting Beijing’s influence around the globe, establishing the US’ dominance in determining 5G network standards and means for bringing UN members to task for abusing their influence within the UN system. The seven acts involving Taiwan address concerns such as the Taiwan Assurance Act
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