The next president may inherit a US government so deeply in debt it could lose its Triple-A credit rating for the first time since Moody's Investors Service began grading securities 90 years ago, warns the Wall Street Journal. The White House is preparing to unveil a record $3 trillion budget request with a $400 billion deficit, which would saddle President Bush's successor with massive debt at a time when the nation will be struggling with soaring costs for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
"It will absolutely bedevil the next administration," said one lawmaker. Critics say Bush has both squandered surpluses and failed to steer Congress to take fiscally wise action to preserve social programs. When the President took office in 2001, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected $5.6 trillion in federal budget surpluses through 2011.