President Bush says he will veto domestic spending bills if opposition Democrats want to spend more money than he is asking for. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, Democrats say the president is not doing enough to keep the nation safe.
President Bush says it is a moment of testing for opposition Democrats, six months after they won control of both houses of Congress.
He wants action on a dozen federal spending bills before next month's congressional recess. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush says Democrats can prove they are for open and transparent government by completing each bill on time.
"The fiscal year ends September 30," he said. "By failing to do the work necessary to pass these important bills by the end of the fiscal year, Democrats are failing in their responsibility to make tough decisions and spend the people's money wisely."
The president says his political opponents want to undo his record tax cuts and his tight rein on domestic spending, policies that he says have built an economy that is the envy of the world.
"Democratic leaders in Congress want to take our country down a different track," he added. "They are working to bring back the failed tax-and-spend policies of the past. The Democrats' budget plan proposes $205 billion in additional domestic spending over the next five years and includes the largest tax increase in history. No nation has ever taxed and spent its way to prosperity. And I have made it clear that I will veto any attempt to take America down this road."
The president is challenging Democrats at a time when public approval ratings for Congress are as bad as his. In a Newsweek magazine poll earlier this month, 26 percent of Americans approved of the way the president is doing his job. A total of 25 percent approved of the way Congress is doing its job in a poll by the magazine last month.
Much of the president's low popularity is related to the war in Iraq. In the Democratic radio address, former Congressman Tim Roemer says that war is making America less secure by creating a new generation of jihadists.
Roemer served on the bipartisan commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He says President Bush has not done enough to follow through on that commission's recommendations.
"Almost six years after 9/11, we are still not as safe as we need to be, and we're not as safe as we should be. Al-Qaeda is gaining strength, and our policies are not keeping pace," he said.
Democrats in both houses of Congress have passed legislation making the remaining commission recommendations law, but those two versions have yet to be reconciled into a single bill.
"This legislation has passed the House and Senate, but Congress needs to finish the job and get this bill to the President's desk," he added. "And to secure the American people, the president must support and sign this bill, not threaten to veto it."
Roemer says the bill would make Americans safer by improving first responder communications, better securing the nations border, and checking the rise of new terrorists by expanding educational opportunities in the Middle East.
The Bush Administration has threatened to veto the measure, in part because it has a provision for a freestanding oversight board on privacy and civil liberties. The White House says this would infringe on the president's ability to manage the Executive Branch and perform his constitutional duties.