Bush sees taxes in Democrats’ spend­ing; mocks $22 bil­lion ‘small dif­fer­ence’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Joseph Curl

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.

As­so­ci­ated Press

Pres­i­dent Bush has said he will veto nine of the 12 spend­ing bills for fis­cal 2008, which be­gins Oct. 1.

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