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Competing Spending Priorities: A Comparison of the Senate Democratic and Republican Budgets

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President George W. Bush has proposed a set of budget priorities, whose aggregate cost has yet to be announced, that emphasizes a large tax cut, some limited spending initiatives, and lower non-defense spending overall. In addition, he has mentioned other priorities and programs--a review of the nation's defense policies, the need for a missile defense system, and the transfer of payroll tax revenue from the Social Security Trust Fund into private accounts--that will have serious budgetary implications. Administration spokespersons have also acknowledged the likelihood of a reform of the alternative minimum tax, which will cost the federal government several hundred billion dollars.

The president's framework will likely be reflected in Republican budget resolutions being finalized in Congress. Proposed spending for many programs under the Republican plan will dip below what is required to maintain current service levels. Senate Democrats have chosen a different approach. Their budget resolution includes higher debt reduction, a smaller tax cut, and higher spending on selected priorities like education than does the GOP plan.

This analysis compares the alternatives offered by Senate Democrats and Republicans in terms of the impact, in both dollars and persons affected, on important federal programs in 2011, the year in which the Bush tax cut would be fully phased in.