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Budget Surpluses Predicted

###ongress' top fiscal analyst is projecting modest surpluses of ###5 billion this year and ###6 billion in 2003 as the starting point for this year's budget fight, a small but politically significant turnabout from the deficits envisioned in January###

The nonpartisan ###ongressional Budget Office has also concluded that if the new tax and spending proposals in President Bush's budget for next year are enacted, a deficit of ###121 billion would result in 2003### Bush himself has estimated that would mean a deficit of ###80 billion###

Mr### Bush's budget would produce a ###51 billion deficit in 2004, but then generate a stream of annual surpluses totaling ###681 billion in the decade beginning in 2003, the budget office said### That is ###322 billion less than the 10-year surplus the president projected###

The numbers were contained in testimony that ###ongressional Budget Office Director Dan ###rippen planned to deliver Wednesday to the Senate Budget ###ommittee###

In January, ###BO foresaw deficits of ###21 billion this year and ###14 billion in fiscal 2003, which starts Oct### 1, before any tax cuts or spending increases are enacted###

###ompared to the overall ###2###1 trillion federal budget and the ###10 trillion U###S### economy, a numerical turnaround of that magnitude is tiny###

Nonetheless, the figures are used by lawmakers as a starting point as they begin crafting the year's spending and tax legislation###

And the new surplus projections are politically significant because they will likely lend momentum to conservatives and other Republicans who want the GOP to push a budget through the House this year that claims to be in balance###

The improvement from just two months ago largely reflects new economic data that suggest the recession is fading or perhaps even over### Stronger economic growth means the government can count on additional revenue and less spending in some programs###

###BO's projections of small surpluses for the next two years assume that no new spending increases or tax cuts are enacted### That is highly unlikely, since added spending for defense and homeland security is a virtual certainty this year and there is bipartisan support to increase spending for farmers, schools and other areas###

To achieve a balanced budget, House Republicans are likely to exclude the ###77 billion price tag for 2003 of an economic stimulus package that Bush says he still supports, despite its rejection by the Democratic-controlled Senate###

"Absent that, there's no reason we shouldn't be in balance," said Rep### Patrick Toomey, R-Pa###, a leading advocate of keeping next year's budget in the black###

The Senate Budget ###ommittee chairman, Sen### Kent ###onrad, D-N###D###, said the new projections of small surpluses would mean little because they ignored the price tags of policy changes Bush has proposed or that lawmakers are likely to make###

"You can balance the budget by just saying big chunks of it aren't really there, when we all know they are," ###onrad said Tuesday###

Democrats are also likely to cite the budget office projection that from 2003 through 2012, Mr### Bush's budget would result in ###1###8 trillion in surpluses generated by Social Security being spent to finance other federal programs###

In recent years, Mr### Bush and many lawmakers had pledged to use that money only to reduce the accumulated national debt### That would strengthen federal finances so the government could more easily handle the looming retirement of the baby boom generation###

###iting the war, recession and terrorism attacks, Bush has said that he has little choice but to generate federal deficits and tap Social Security surpluses for other programs### Democrats have criticized Bush for diverting Social Security surpluses, saying it will make it harder to shore up the giant pension program for the elderly and handicapped###

The budget office also calculates that without any tax or spending changes, there would be a ###2###4 trillion surplus from 2003 through 2012### That is about ###100 billion more than ###BO estimated in January###