- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 9, 2002

President Bush went on the offensive yesterday against Senate Democrats, calling on them to help create jobs as Republicans began airing campaign ads against Democrats who rejected the administration's economic recovery bill.

"The leadership in the Senate said, 'No, we can't get anything done,'" Mr. Bush said in Denver. "I respectfully disagree. It seems like to me that we ought to focus on what's best for the country, work together and get a package which provides stimulus for job creation."

Senate Democrats this week rejected an $89 billion proposal backed by the White House to create jobs through business-tax breaks and to aid the unemployed. The Republican-led House approved the package last fall.

As the president was pressuring Democratic leaders to act, the Senate Republicans' campaign arm was preparing to air advertisements against five vulnerable Senate Democrats who voted against the administration's recession-relief package.

A television ad showing in Montana proclaims that Mr. Bush reached a compromise with "moderate Democrats" to help the economy but "sadly, partisan Democrats like Max Baucus voted against that compromise."

Mr. Bush says in the commercial: "There's something more important than politics and that's to do our jobs."

"We agree," the announcer says. "Tell Max Baucus it's time to do his job."

Mr. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is running for re-election in a state that Mr. Bush carried easily in 2000. The president's wartime popularity is around 80 percent.

Versions of the TV commercial also are running in Missouri, where incumbent Democratic Sen. Jean Carnahan is running against Republican Jim Talent, and in South Dakota, where Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson is running against Republican Rep. John Thune.

The Republicans are airing radio spots in Missouri; Iowa, home of Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin; and Minnesota, home of Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone.

A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said the advertisements seek to shift blame from Republicans who rejected Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's economic recovery bill.

"Senator Daschle put forward a stimulus package countless times, and Republicans voted against it," said Tovah Ravitz-Meehan. "We felt we had a stimulus package that was effective in the short term."

Mr. Daschle also prevented the Senate from voting on the White House-backed plan shortly before Christmas.

The Senate did approve a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits this week, but Mr. Bush said lawmakers must do more.

"The people in America who have lost their jobs, they don't want an unemployment check for the long run; they want a paycheck," Mr. Bush said. "And the best thing Congress needs to do is ask this question: How do we create more jobs? How do we invigorate the private sector to create more jobs so people can find work?

"I know some [lawmakers] decided that the stimulus package is dead," Mr. Bush said. "We want to take care of the people who lost their work. We also want to invigorate the job-creating mechanisms of the United States of America so that people have jobs so they can put food on the table. We can't let politics dominate Washington, D.C. We need to set aside our parties and focus on what's right for the country."

The national unity in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks is a prominent theme in the campaign commercials, capitalizing on Mr. Bush's 80 percent job approval rating.

"When times are tough, Americans unite," the commercials say. "We put aside our differences and do what's best for the nation."

Mr. Bush allocated $77 billion for an economic recovery plan in his fiscal 2003 budget, which calls for a deficit of $80 billion. Without the recession relief, some conservatives in Congress are advocating cuts of $3 billion to balance the budget.

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