Obama budget sees '09 deficit at $1.75 trillion

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:00am EST

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WASHINGTON Feb 26 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will forecast a 2009 deficit of $1.75 trillion on Thursday in a budget that covers big goals including reforming the health care system and stabilizing the U.S. economy, an administration official said.

The huge deficit figure, to be published in the president's budget later on Thursday, would represent 12.3 percent of the U.S. economy -- its largest share since World War II.

Obama, a Democrat, has pledged to halve the more-than $1 trillion deficit he inherited from former Republican President George W. Bush by early 2013, when his current term in office ends. The budget lays out a series of spending cuts in agriculture subsidies and other areas to meet that goal.

Two senior administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, laid out broad outlines of the budget ahead of its release and said Obama's expensive policy goals would be offset by cuts to put the country in better fiscal shape.

"There's no doubt that there are going to be things that we do that are going to create some political heartburn," one official said.

"But our fundamental mission is restore the health of the economy, put the budget on a better (footing) moving forward."

One official said Obama expected the deficit to decline steadily in the coming years, reaching $533 billion by 2013. He said the deficit would represent 3 percent of the economy that year and stabilize from there. (Reporting by Caren Bohan and Jeff Mason)

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