Bush sees taxes in Democrats’ spending; mocks $22 billion ‘small difference’
President Bush on Aug. 2 said the Democrat-controlled Congress wants “to raise your taxes,” and he ridiculed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s calling of the $22 billion that Democrats want to add to the president’s spending proposal a “very small difference.”
“Only in Washington can $22 billion be called a very small difference,” said Mr. Bush as he stood in the White House Rose Garden after meeting with his Cabinet. “There’s only one way to pay for all this new federal spending without running up the deficit, and that is to raise your taxes.”
Mr. Bush has threatened to veto nine of the 12 annual spending bills for fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1. Most of the bills already approved by the House passed without vetoproof majorities, but just one has been approved by the Senate.
The president said he already has proposed increasing discretionary spending by 6.9 percent, but that Democrats want to add $205 billion in additional spending over the next five years.
“That $205 billion averages out to about $112 million per day, $4.7 million per hour, $78,000 per minute. Put another way, that’s about $1,300 in higher spending every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every year for the next five years,” Mr. Bush said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid charged that the president is “more interested in picking fights than problem-solving.”
“Our differences amount to less than 1 percent of the budget, less than half of what the president wants to spend on tax breaks for those with incomes over $1 million, and less than what we spend in two months on the war in Iraq,” said the Nevada senator, adding that the Bush administration’s “reckless” fiscal policy has turned a $236 billion surplus into a $248 billion deficit, leaving key domestic programs unfunded or underfunded.
Democrats pointed out that Mr. Bush has turned a projected 10year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion into additional debt of more than $3 trillion. In his first term, the president never vetoed a single bill, signing legislation that far ex- ceeded his austere requests, which has angered conservatives.
For example, in fiscal 2006, Mr. Bush signed appropriations bills that exceeded his request by $53 billion — more than twice the increase proposed in this year’s congressional budget resolution. In addition, the president has signed just three appropriations bills before the August congressional recess.
But Mr. Bush said that Democrats are dragging their feet on the 12 necessary spending bills to fund the federal government for the next fiscal year. He complained that Congress will go into its monthlong summer recess starting Aug. 3 without sending him the spending bills, leaving little time when the House and Senate reconvene next month.
Although the House has passed most appropriation bills, each has added additional spending not proposed by the president. While Mr. Bush proposed numerous reductions in his $433 billion request for non-defense programs, Democrats have restored money for those proposed cuts, while also adding additional spending.
“This doesn’t have to be this way,” the president said in the Rose Garden. “[Democrats] control the calendar for bringing up bills in Congress. They need to pass each of these spending bills individually, on time, and in a fiscally responsible way.”
Last month, when Mr. Bush demanded that Democrats pass his defense spending bill, Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, charged that the new majority party planned to send one massive “omnibus spending bill right at the beginning of the next fiscal year.”
The rhetoric has been rising since Congress refused to pass the president’s immigration-reform bill, which died after Republicans refused to go along with Democrats to pass the overhaul. Yet, Mr. Bush has been targeting Democrats as the cause of congressional gridlock.
On Aug. 1, after meeting with Mr. Bush at the White House, Mrs. Pelosi said Democrats want to work with the president “to negotiate the very small difference between Democrats and Republicans on these appropriations bills.” But Congress will have just four weeks when it returns from its break to pass the 12 bills.
S.A. Miller contributed to this report.
President Bush has said he will veto nine of the 12 spending bills for fiscal 2008, which begins Oct. 1.