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White House Projects Shrinking Deficit

As a percentage of the economy, the new deficit would be half the size of what it was when Obama entered office. At the time, he vowed to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, a pledge that took longer to fulfill.

While the White House predicts improvement this year, it sees somewhat higher deficits in future years than it did in April, mostly because slightly more pessimistic predictions of economic growth would produce $384 billion less in tax receipts over that period.

Over the upcoming decade, the White House predicts accumulated deficits of $5.8 trillion; in April it predicted $5.3 trillion in total deficits over 2014-2023.

White House budget director Sylvia Mathews Burwell said that this year's deficit is less than half of the record deficit posted four years ago when measured against the size of the economy. The 2013 deficit would equal 4.7 percent of gross domestic product versus the 10.1 percent of GDP in 2009.

The report reprises longstanding Obama proposals to increase taxes on upper-income earners, curb payments to Medicare providers, and close special interest tax breaks enjoyed by oil companies and other businesses. It also would impose a less generous cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients, a proposal that is opposed by many Democrats. But it steers clear of controversial cuts to Medicare and the Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled, and it leaves Obama's signature health care law untouched.

"We do not need to choose between making critical investments necessary to help grow our economy and support middle class families and continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way," Burwell said.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, criticized the report for projecting that spending over 10 years would increase by more than 60 percent from current levels. "Ominously, the president provides no serious proposal for strengthening and preserving our unsustainable Medicare and Social Security programs," he said in a statement.

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