Hoping to reverse the ballooning deficits accrued in his watch, President George W. Bush yesterday unveiled his 2006 budget, a $2.6 trillion submission that seeks to trim an array of domestic spending programs. According to published reports, the Bush budget essentially freezes domestic spending -- save for national security -- and has some 150 federal programs ranging from housing to agricultural subsidies in its crosshairs. However, several of the budget-cutting targets, such as proposing to eliminate subsidies for the Amtrak rail line and cuts to environmental programs, are setting the stage for battles with House and Senate Democrats. Bush is expected to forecast a budget deficit of about $230 billion in fiscal 2009, when his second term expires. The current deficit is projected to hit a record $427 billion this year. Critics, however, charge that the 2006 budget excludes the cost of the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the costs associated with the president's plan to reform Social Security.

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