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Budget features steep increases and cuts

WASHINGTON—President Bush's 2006 budget is a fiscal roller coaster, with steep raises for some federal programs and sharp drops for others. Here's a look at some of the more dramatic elements:

_Agriculture. Slash Agriculture Department spending 9.6 percent, to $19.4 billion, cutting payments to farmers by 5 percent, largely by lowering the annual ceiling on payments to $250,000 from $360,000.

_Defense. Increase the Defense Department budget by 4.5 percent, to $419.3 billion.

_Transportation. Cut the Transportation Department budget by 1 percent—to $57.5 billion—partly by eliminating subsidies to Amtrak, the nation's passenger-rail carrier. Amtrak received $1.2 billion this year.

_Medicaid. Trim Medicaid spending by $45 billion over 10 years, mainly by tightening payments to state governments, which already are howling at the budget strain from Medicaid.

_Education. Reduce the Education Department budget 1 percent, to $56 billion, cutting $2 billion from high school programs such as Upward Bound and Gear Up, which helps low-income students and their families prepare for college, trimming $355 million from grants for the safe and drug-free school programs. Increase Pell grant funding by 48 percent, to nearly $18 billion, and spend $2 billion on math and science partnerships and advance-placement tests to help struggling high school students.

_Law enforcement. Increase the Justice Department budget by 1 percent, to $20.3 billion; the FBI gets an 11 percent increase to $5.7 billion. Slash funding for the Clinton-era Community Oriented Services program—or COPS—which helps local agencies hire police officers, from $499 million to $22 million.

_Housing. Chop the Housing and Urban Development Department budget by 11.5 percent, to $28.5 billion, eliminating 18 community development block-grant programs, which received $4.7 billion in fiscal 2005, and consolidating them into a new $3.7 billion economic-development program for poor neighborhoods run by the Commerce Department. Increase spending on public housing by 14 percent, to $5.7 billion.

_Health and Human Services. Slice the Health and Human Services Department budget by 1.2 percent, to $67.2 billion, cutting discretionary spending by $788 million, or 1 percent. The money comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Administration on Aging. Boost Medicare 17 percent boost to $340 billion, mostly to fund a prescription-drug benefit that takes effect this fiscal year.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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