Democrats step up criticism of Bush budget

Democrats may not yet have an alternative for President Bush's budget--which the president sent to Capitol Hill a week ago--but they are already armed with their most detailed analyses yet of what he has proposed as they lay the groundwork for their eventual response.

Last week, both House and Senate Budget committee Democrats released in-depth reports examining the president's proposals on tax policy, discretionary spending and mandatory spending. Both reports argue that Bush's deficit- spending budget is flawed in its domestic priorities and sacrifices the long-term fiscal health of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds to pay for tax cuts that Democrats believe would only dig the current deficit hole deeper.

Both reports point out the cuts Bush's budget would make to pay for beefing up defense and homeland security, as well as highlight additional expenses not factored into the administration's budget.

House Budget Democrats, who called their analysis "Return to Red Ink: Back to Budget Deficits," charge that "compared with last year's, this year's Republican budget cuts the same national priorities, with the same ideological tilt toward those who need help the least, and against middle- and lower-income families struggling to make it."

The report issued by Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who must not only write but pass a fiscal 2003 budget resolution through the almost equally divided upper chamber and try to conference it with the GOP House version, calls on Congress to "work together to restore fiscal discipline to the budget without abandoning the priorities of the American people or passing on a tremendous debt burden to our children," while lamenting that Bush's budget "takes us in exactly the wrong direction."

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