March 20, 2009 / 12:43 AM / in 9 years

Senate's Conrad sees $1.6 trillion in extra deficit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad said on Thursday he expects federal deficit spending will be about $1.6 trillion greater over the next ten years than President Barack Obama’s budget plan forecasts.

Obama submitted his budget outline to Congress last month which forecast almost $7 trillion in deficits through 2019, however a worsening economic picture is expected to make the budget outlook darker.

Conrad told reporters that the additional $1.6 trillion over the next decade was based on projections of the Democratic majority’s budget committee staff.

The Congressional Budget Office is due to issue its revised forecasts for the deficit and economic outlook on Friday, taking into account Obama’s budget proposal which included health care reform and other domestic programs such as curbing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding education.

The expectation of much higher deficit spending comes as much of Washington was already worried about exploding deficits and government borrowing to finance it. China last week raised concerns that massive deficit spending and near zero interest rates would erode the value of its huge U.S. bond holdings.

Conrad also said he did not plan to include any instructions in the budget plan he is crafting for health care or the greenhouse gas initiatives. Such instructions written into the budget would give it a privileged status and make it easier to become law, but likely spark a nasty fight with minority Republicans.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and Richard Cowan, editing by Jackie Frank

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