- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. — President Bush yesterday charged that if Democrats gain control of the House in the November elections, they will try to force tax increases on Americans.

Pivoting from his recent series of speeches on the war on terrorism, which have boosted poll numbers for him and Republicans overall, Mr. Bush turned to the economy, the other issue that he thinks his party has a strong record on which to run.

“There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind where we stand on cutting taxes. And the Democrats in Washington have got a record of their own, and there should be no doubt in anybody’s mind where they stand,” the president told 400 Republicans at campaign fundraiser here.

He came armed with a series of statistics about Democrats’ records, which he said voters should remember when they head to the polls: 85 percent of House Democrats voted against his 2001 tax cut package, 95 percent voted against his 2003 tax cut package and 92 percent voted against this year’s bill to extend some of those cuts.

“I think you’re beginning to get a drift of their philosophy about your money,” Mr. Bush said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said she welcomed turning this election into a referendum on the economy.

“Real incomes for middle-class families have declined since the president took office,” she said, pointing to increased health insurance, energy and college tuition costs.

And Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Democrat and chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said that given that the national debt has grown so quickly under Mr. Bush, he shouldn’t “throw such sharp stones while living in such a glass house.”

Mr. Bush, though, said Democrats have even threatened to raise taxes.

He pointed to comments by Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York, who would become chairman of the Ways and Means Committee if Democrats won control of Congress. Mr. Rangel has said he doesn’t see any Bush tax cuts worth extending.

“That’s one way of saying they’re going to raise your taxes because, you see, if you don’t extend the tax cuts, your taxes go up,” Mr. Bush said.

The president has dominated press coverage in the past few weeks with his push on terrorism, and his tax message yesterday was overshadowed by the deal his administration reached with key senators to approve a CIA interrogation program.

The talk on terrorism has been good for him.

A Los Angeles Times-Bloomberg poll released yesterday found Mr. Bush with a 44 percent approval rating. That is Mr. Bush’s highest rating since January.

The number matches the 44 percent approval rating that the Gallup-USA Today poll showed earlier this week.

Still, a CBS-New York Times poll released this week found that Mr. Bush “had not improved his own or his party’s standing” with his series of speeches, according to yesterday’s Times.

That poll put Mr. Bush’s job approval rating at 37 percent, unchanged from an August poll, as was the number — 54 percent — who approve of the way he is handling the war on terrorism.

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