- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2002

Democrats and Republicans alike on yesterday's talk shows made their cases that tomorrow's midterm elections could turn on the other party's handling of the economy.
Republicans said Democrats want to raise taxes and obstruct President Bush, while Democrats said the president has no economic agenda.
"If you want to talk about the economy, let's see what the Democrats have to offer. They haven't even passed a budget in the United States Senate. First time since 1974. They have all these hidden signals they want to raise taxes," Senate Minority Whip Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican, said on CNN's "Late Edition."
But Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, charged the president with squandering a federal surplus that was projected at $5.6 trillion when Mr. Bush took office in 2001.
"We're now looking at $165 billion, or thereabouts, in a deficit this year and mounting. In fact, this administration predicts we'll be in the red for as many years as you can see down the road," Mr. Dodd, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said on CNN.
"That's not good management of the economy," the Democrat said. "If people really vote on their pocketbooks, and I believe they will then clearly the Democrats have the advantage."
The two senators' points and counterpoints were echoed by numerous other leaders of their respective parties in appearances on Sunday news talk shows, two days before critical elections that could change the makeup of Congress and determine whether key elements of Mr. Bush's agenda derailed by Senate Democrats get back on track.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said the president "has failed to lead on the economy." The DNC boss called the president's economic policies a "disaster."
Mr. McAuliffe also said Democrats and Republicans need to get together after the elections and talk about the possibility of repealing or delaying the Bush tax cuts as a way of eliminating deficits.
But Marc Racicot, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who was also on NBC, said his Democratic counterpart's reference to a post-election budget summit is a "code for 'let's raise taxes.'"
"That's the Democratic program here have a summit and determine how much we will tax the American people and increase what they pay today," said Mr. Racicot.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, who has also called for an economic summit, says he will push to prevent the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cuts from becoming permanent. But he says it is not possible to repeal the cuts, as Mr. Bush has vowed to veto any such legislation.
Tim Russert, host of "Meet the Press," read Mr. McAuliffe part of a Los Angeles Times article that said "almost all the Democratic challengers with a plausible chance of capturing Republican Senate seats in Tuesday's elections have embraced the tax cuts."
Mr. McAuliffe replied that "many Democrats are out there with an economic plan." He predicted economic conditions will improve for all Americans with more Democrats in the Senate and a Democrat in the White House.
"That's poppycock," Mr. Racicot retorted. The RNC chairman said Democrats are "as paralyzed in their campaigns as they are in serving the people of this country. That's why they have blocked all of the efforts to do the things that government can do to address the economy they claim one game but they play another."
On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat and chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, repeatedly refused to say if Democrats will try to roll back the Bush tax cuts.
"The president's plan was put forward, and it doesn't work," said Mrs. Murray. "And what Democrats are saying now is we need to invest in education, in transportation infrastructure. We need to extend unemployment insurance and we need to have job training, That has to be part of the next economic plan."
She said Mr. Bush "will not focus on the economy" unless there is a Democratic majority in the Senate.
Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, who also appeared on Fox, said Mr. Bush proposed a "positive economic agenda," but said it has been "obstructed by the Democrats in the United States Senate."
The "obstructions," he said, include the Senate's failure to pass a budget and its failures to enact an energy bill and an anti-terror insurance bill, both of which would create many new jobs.

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