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Democrats Use Quiet Day to Further Criticism of Bush Budget

With Republicans out of town for a party retreat this weekend, Democratic leaders convened their own hearing on President Bush’s budget, one in which they found mostly sympathetic ears.

But while most panelists at Friday’s hearing, run by the House and Senate Democratic Policy committees, backed the party’s positions, Republican Bruce Bartlett took issue with Democrats’ stance that deficits and Bush’s tax-cut proposal are bad policy.

“[T]he assumption that deficits necessarily constitute [not saving] assumes that the spending or tax cuts that give rise to the deficits constitute nothing but pure consumption,” Bartlett, representing for the National Center for Policy Analysis, said in written testimony. “I would argue that tax cuts of the sort that President Bush has proposed can be viewed as investments in our nation’s productive capacity.”

Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) opened the hearing decrying such supply-side economic theory.

“Even President Reagan was willing to scale back his demand for more tax cuts when deficits started mounting,” he said. “But not this president. … His passion remains the same — tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

Former Rep. Barbara Kennelly (D-Conn.), president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, slammed Bush’s $2.23 trillion budget proposal as well.

“The president’s 2004 budget undermines the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare,” she testified. “The retirement of the baby boomers is imminent; this is no time to run up the national credit card on expensive long-term tax cuts.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined in, criticizing the budget for shortchanging national priorities.

“President Bush likes to talk about issues that are important to working families — prescription drug coverage for seniors, educating our children, access to quality health care, protecting the environment and securing our homeland,” she said. “This budget makes the president’s priorities clear. In order to make room for a $1.3 trillion tax cut, when you include the interest, his budget shortchanges the very things he trumpeted in his State of the Union address.”

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