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Congressional report: Deficit to reach $1.35T in 2010

WASHINGTON - The latest congressional budget estimates out yesterday predict a $1.35-trillion deficit for this year as the economy continues to slowly recover from the recession.

The Congressional Budget Office report predicts a sluggish economic recovery and continued high deficits that present twin political problems for President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies.

The report sees a slow rebound of the economy, with unemployment averaging 10.1 percent this year as the economy grows by just over 2 percent. It would grow only slightly more next year with an unemployment rate of 9.5 percent.

"Economic growth in the next few years will probably be muted in the aftermath of the financial and economic turmoil," the CBO report says.

The latest estimates also see a $1.35-trillion deficit for the current budget year, dropping to $980 billion next year - but only if a host of tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush are allowed to expire.

It's a sobering reminder of the fundamental imbalance of the federal government's budget that comes just days before Obama's Feb. 1 budget submission. The White House says Obama will propose a three-year freeze on domestic agency budgets, though the savings would barely make a dent. It hasn't said whether Obama will propose tax hikes or cuts to spiraling benefit programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The deficit would slide to $480 billion by 2015, CBO says, but only if tax cuts on income, investments and large estates are allowed to expire at the end of this year. Most budget experts see deficits as far higher once tax cuts and other policies are factored in.

The 2010 deficit figure is in line with previous estimates and would be a slight decline from last year's $1.4 trillion shortfall.

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