From the Financial Times:
Barack Obama will this week set the goal of halving the budget deficit he inherited by the end of his first term, while pushing ahead aggressively on healthcare reform, climate change and education.From President Bush's 2004 State of the Union speech:
His first budget, released on Thursday, will show the deficit falling to $533bn (€415bn, £369bn) by fiscal year 2013, compared with an inherited deficit aides estimate at $1,300bn.
And we should limit the burden of government on this economy by acting as good stewards of taxpayer dollars. In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland, and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending, and be wise with the people's money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years.Keep in mind that cutting the deficit in half is far different than cutting the national debt in half. Cutting the deficit in half means that government spending will still be contributing to the national debt. In order to reduce the national debt, we need to have a budget surplus, not a deficit.
The $533 billion deficit that Obama hopes for would rank among one of the worst deficits experienced under George W. Bush. In other words, it would be no great accomplishment. Even so, I think Obama is unlikely to achieve it.