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Democrats Again Attack Bush Economic Recovery Plan - 2003-03-11

Opposition Democrats have launched a new round of criticism on President Bush's economic stimulus and budget proposals.

President Bush has proposed a multi-year $700 billion plan to stimulate the economy by speeding up earlier tax cuts, and eliminating taxes on dividends.

But from the moment the Bush plan arrived on Capitol Hill, Democrats attacked it as a "giveaway to the rich," saying the proposals would also sharply increase deficits and long-term government debt.

This week, House of Representatives and Senate budget committees are finalizing their respective versions of a spending resolution which will take into account the president's tax proposals.

However, Democratic lawmakers intend to introduce alternatives they say will be more fiscally responsible.

"The president's proposals provide for less stimulus to the economy now, and create huge federal budget deficits out into the future, which of course will raise long-term interest rates and slow economic growth," said Maryland Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes, who appeared at a Capitol Hill news conference.

In the House, moderate Democrats focused on what they call irresponsible policies digging the country deeper into debt, while failing to create jobs.

"Despite all of the bad [economic] news, the president and the Republicans in Congress forge ahead with their reckless budget and ignore the millions of Americans who need economic relief now, in the form of jobs," said Congressman Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House.

Republican budget committee chairmen in the House and Senate have said they will try to craft spending resolutions that would result in a balanced budget after 10 years, while keeping President Bush's tax cut proposals intact.

At the White House Tuesday, spokesman Ari Fleischer rejected a reporter's assertion that the president's stimulus plan has "stalled" in Congress. He urged lawmakers to pass the president's proposals in full.

The president is, indeed, very concerned though about the strength of the [economic] recovery and wants to make certain that the recovery continues," he said. "And the best way to approach this is through Congress taking action."

Mr. Fleischer did not say when the White House will send Congress a formal "supplemental" budget request taking into account the initial costs of a potential war in Iraq.