- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 13, 2003


President Bush says he’s not yet begun campaigning, but he sounded a lot like someone running for re-election yesterday as he argued he has led “a year of accomplishment” on the economy, Medicare, the war on terror and a host of other issues.

“We worked with Congress to take action in a number of areas on behalf of the American people,” Mr. Bush said in a weekly radio address devoted to touting his administration’s achievements. “We confronted problems with determination and bipartisan spirit. Yet our work is not done.”

Democrats, meanwhile, criticized some of the very areas Mr. Bush said were worthy of praise. Delivering his party’s radio speech an hour after Mr. Bush, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said a Medicare overhaul, tax breaks and anti-terror measures pushed by Republicans have fallen short.

“When we believed that Republicans were trying to steer the country in the wrong direction, we offered another choice,” Mr. Reid said. “Sometimes, Americans wonder whether it really matters who’s in charge. These examples and many others prove that it really does matter.”

The president has raised at least $112 million for his re-election campaign and appeared at 42 fund-raisers since May. He always tells those Republican audiences that he is only “loosening up” for a campaign that hasn’t started.

But in his address and a six-page list that accompanied it, Mr. Bush trumpeted numerous ways he said his administration has helped make the nation safer, more prosperous and more compassionate — despite mounting casualties in Iraq and a soaring federal budget deficit.

Receiving top billing was a new Medicare law that, for the first time, provides a prescription-drug benefit for seniors while introducing private insurance coverage to the government program. With his political advisers eager to score points with voters on an issue long associated with Democrats, Mr. Bush trumpeted the sweeping legislation as proof he can deliver for Americans.

“The reform and modernization of Medicare was one milestone in a year of accomplishment,” he said.

Mr. Bush also credited tax cuts he advocated with pushing the economy toward more positive footing, said a new law allowing more timber to be cut with less scrutiny is protecting the environment by preventing wildfires, and claimed progress in the war on terror.

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