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Bush Budget Meets Stiff Democratic Resistance Upon Arrival

Democrats blasted President Bush’s budget proposal, which was delivered to Capitol Hill on Monday morning, as irresponsible in light of the growing deficit.

“It is stunning in its lack of fiscal responsibility,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said of the $2.2 trillion plan.

Democrats juxtaposed Bush’s remark during the State of the Union speech that “We will not pass on our problems to other Congresses, other presidents and other generations,” with his budget blueprint that allows a record $307 billion deficit in 2004.

“In his fiscal 2004 budget, President Bush continues his failed economic policies; promotes misguided, misplaced priorities; and uses budget gimmicks and accounting tricks worthy of Enron,” reads a statement released by Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.).

Conrad, ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, also charged that Bush’s plan would dip into the Social Security Trust Fund “on the eve of the retirement of the baby boom generation.”

According to numbers provided by South Carolina Rep. John Spratt (D), the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, Bush’s plan would exhaust the trust fund’s entire $2.2 trillion surplus “for the foreseeable future.”

Conrad said most of the deficit is the result of Bush’s enacted and proposed tax cuts.

“We may be getting a tax cut now, but we’ll pay a debt tax later,” he said.

Later in the afternoon, Senate Budget Chairman Don Nickles (R-Okla.) said the recession is to blame for the deficits and praised Bush’s new tax-cut proposal as the way to stimulate the economy and thereby generate more revenue.

When told Democrats called the president’s plan irresponsible, Nickles countered: “They weren’t the party of fiscal discipline” during debate on the omnibus appropriations bill last month.

All amendments offered by Democrats at that time tried to add money back into the 2003 budget, he said.

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