- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

DENVER (AP) — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, sounding like a 2008 presidential candidate, yesterday accused President Bush and Republicans of mismanaging the economy and failing to ensure affordable services for the middle class and the poor.

“It’s the American dream, stupid,” said the former first lady in a riff on her husband’s successful 1992 campaign mantra — “It’s the economy, stupid.”

“They’re bankrupting our country and failing to address the problems,” the New York senator told the annual meeting of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), citing escalating gas, college and health care costs.

“Once again, America needs to work for everyone, not just the privileged and the powerful,” said Mrs. Clinton when outlining the “American Dream Initiative,” a package of economic proposals aimed at strengthening the middle class and helping the poor work their way out of poverty.

The 20-page document proposes steps to curtail federal spending, make college more accessible, ensure solvent retirement accounts and make health care more affordable, all with the goal of correcting the country’s current “misguided economic philosophy” and giving anyone who is willing to work hard the opportunity to get ahead.

“It seems to me that everybody in the country understands what this administration has done wrong. It is important now for this country to understand what we need to do that’s right,” said Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, chairman of the DLC, a think tank best known for helping Bill Clinton win the White House in 1992.

Mr. Vilsack, who also is a potential 2008 presidential candidate, urged Democratic candidates to embrace the economic agenda in their House and Senate races this year, saying the party should “send a message that we understand and appreciate and believe in the American dream.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) took issue with the characterizations of the president’s record.

“Only liberal Democrats like Hillary Clinton could attack an economy that has produced 5.4 million jobs in the last three years, grew 5.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, increased payroll employment in 47 states and is the envy of the industrialized world,” said Danny Diaz, an RNC spokesman.

With congressional midterm elections little more than three months away, Democrats see an opportunity to reclaim the House and Senate. A recent AP-Ipsos poll showed Americans more inclined to vote for Democrats than for Republicans, by double-digit margins.

Exit polls from the 2004 presidential election showed that those with family incomes from $30,000 to $50,000 split their votes evenly between Mr. Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

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