Bush pushes tax cut budget
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FEBRUARY 28, 2001

President George W. Bush made his first address to Congress on Tuesday night and judging from the reaction of Democrats, he's got a lot of work to do to convince them that his $1.6 trillion tax cut and spending plan will work.

Cheers and applause greeted the nation's 43rd President as he promised to spend more money on education, end racial profiling, pay down the national debt, and "let the American people spend their own money to meet their own needs." But afterwards, Democrat lawmakers had less than glowing reviews of his remarks.

Senator Robert Byrd (W.Va.) called Bush's tax cut "sheer madness" and said the country would plunge into a recession if implemented. House Minority leader Dick Gephardt (Mo.) and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) characterized it as financial wizardry reminiscent of President Ronald Reagan's "voodoo economics" which left the country in a "horrendous" slump.

"In 1981, Dick and I sat in the House Chamber when another new President talked to the American people about stimulating our economy," said Daschle at a press conference following the address. "The words spoken that evening were strikingly similar to the message we heard tonight. We were promised that if we gave huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, the benefits would trickle down, deficits would disappear and the economy would flourish."

"Congress supported that experiment," he added. "It was a huge mistake."

Arguing Bush's plan will end up costing the American public $2 trillion, the pair laid out what they called a "better way." The Democrat proposal calls for a $900 billion tax cut while increasing spending for education, preserving future Social Security and Medicare funds, and adding a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens.

"President Bush's numbers just don't add up; ours do," said Gephardt. "His plan leaves no money for anything except tax cuts; ours does."

However, the public won't know the details of Bush's budget until this morning, when a more detailed plan is presented. Last night, though, he gave a hint of what America can expect.

Bush reiterated his campaign promise of making education a top priority and said the administration would spend $5 billion over the next five years to ensure that no child is left behind. But he didn't address his only pledge to Indian Country: spending almost $1 billion to repair or improve crumbling tribal schools.

Bush also promised that his budget would increase spending on the environment in two areas: cleaning up toxic sites and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Bringing up another campaign promise, he said he would dedicate $5 billion over five years to the National Park Service -- an agency of the Department of Interior -- for repair and maintenance.

The Associated Press today reports that a budget document it obtained shows cuts at the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, and Interior.

Get Bush's Address:
Text | Video

Get the Democrat Response:
Text | Video

Relevant Links:
The Land and Water Conservation Fund -

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