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Democrats Challenge Bush on Iraq


President Bush reports to Congress this month on the results from his decision to send more troops to Iraq. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, opposition Democrats say his strategy is not working and it is time to start bringing U.S. troops home.

President Bush says his September 15 report to Congress will assess what is going well in Iraq, what can be improved, and what adjustments might be made. Mr. Bush says legislators should withhold judgment until they have heard it.

But opposition Democrats, and some within the president's own Republican Party, are not withholding judgment.

In the Democratic Party's Saturday radio address, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky says the troop reinforcements have failed to achieve their goal of reducing violence so progress can be made on political reconciliation.

"The president's surge has failed, and there is no end in sight for the war in Iraq," she said.

Schakowsky visited Iraq last month and says top commander General David Petraeus told her U.S. troops could be in Iraq another nine or 10 years. She says that is not the timetable most Americans have in mind, and she urged Republican members of Congress to support a draw down of troops. .

"The best way to protect our troops is to end this war in Iraq," she added. "With the president stubbornly continuing to stay the course in Iraq, I urge my Republican colleagues to join with Democrats and the vast majority of Americans who are demanding a new direction in Iraq and refocusing America's efforts on fighting the real threats of terrorism around the world."

In August, John Warner, a former Navy secretary and a Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said President Bush should bring some U.S. troops home by the end of the year.

White House officials say the president will make no decisions about the way forward in Iraq until hearing from General Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

But in remarks meant to rebuild public support for the war, Mr. Bush has made clear that he believes withdrawing troops now would embolden the enemy and make America more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

In his weekly radio address, the president focused on economic proposals meant to ease U.S. mortgage defaults, which have disrupted worldwide financial markets.

His plan would make it easier for borrowers holding adjustable rate mortgages to refinance those loans through the government housing authority.

Thousands of American homeowners have fallen behind on their mortgage payments because their adjustable rate mortgages have reset at higher interest rates.

As the mortgage industry goes through a period of adjustment, Mr. Bush says the federal government will help troubled homeowners but not lenders who made unwise loans or consumers who purchased homes beyond their means.

"The Federal government will not bail out lenders because that would only make a recurrence of the problem more likely," he said. "And it is not the government's job to bail out speculators, or those who made the decision to buy a home they knew they could never afford. But I support action at the Federal level that will help more American families keep their homes."

Economists estimate the monthly payments on some two million adjustable rate mortgages will rise in the next two years.

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