Bush to "Sharply Reduce Domestic Spending"? Where?

Steven Weisman's Tuesday "News Analysis" of Bush's proposed final budget "Bush's Final Budget Hints At Tough Choices to Come," falsely claimed the budget would reduce domestic spending.

President Bush's final budget, a $3 trillion plan offered Monday that would continue his tax cuts and sharply reduce domestic spending, has little chance of surviving in a Democratic Congress. But the problems it lays out will survive and grow, presenting tough choices for the next administration.

What sharp reduction? Weisman was contradicted by reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg on the same page, "Bush Presents a Budget That Would Raise the Deficit," showing that spending for most programs is being held in place, not reduced. (Notice how Bush is attacked in the Times both for cutting spending and increasing the deficit.)

Every budget is as much a declaration of principles as an actual spending plan. For Mr. Bush, who took office with a $236 billion surplus that turned into a deficit after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan, this final budget offers a chance to rewrite his fiscal history. For years, he has faced criticism from fiscal conservatives like Mr. Gregg.

As a result, this year's budget limits the growth of all federal programs, other than the military, domestic security and so-called entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, to less than 1 percent. Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, called the plan "a chance to show we are serious about reforming pork-barrel spending."

By contrast, Reuters got it right with its headline: "Bush budget would nearly freeze domestic spending."