- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2007

Presidential aspirant Rudolph W. Giuliani yesterday blamed Republican lawmakers for losing control of Congress in last year’s election, saying their excessive spending of taxpayer dollars was shameful.

“We lost Congress because, ultimately, our party in Congress became just like the Democrats as far as spending money is concerned. Shame on us! Shame on us!” the former New York City mayor said. “What we should stand for is fiscal discipline.”

But he told hundreds of cheering supporters gathered yesterday at the Americans for Prosperity conference at the Mayflower Hotel that Democrats, who now control both chambers of Congress, will be much worse.

“Republicans are amateur spenders, and Democrats are professional spenders,” he declared.

Sen. Sam Brownback, a second-tier presidential candidate, also teed off on Republicans.

“We’ve got to control federal spending. The Republicans have lost the mantra, they’ve lost their way on controlling federal spending. We’ve got to change the system again,” he told the gathering.

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson joked about Congress’s free-spending ways, saying that in his early days on the Hill, “I accidentally spent some of my own money.”

Still, the candidates reserved some harsh rhetoric for the Democratic presidential candidates, with Mr. Giuliani drawing guffaws from the crowd when he ridiculed a proposal by New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to give each child born in America a $5,000 bond.

The “Hillary Bonds” — which, he joked, might come complete “with Hillary’s picture on them” — would cost $20 billion per year.

“This costs money. It doesn’t come from trees; it doesn’t come from heaven,” he said. “Hillary, that’s real money. Even you and Bill can’t afford that.”

Mr. Giuliani said every Democratic candidate plans new spending of taxpayers’ money that will come after Congress repeals tax cuts put in place by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Bush.

“Each and every Democratic candidate promises to raise taxes and you can be sure, this is a promise they’re going to keep,” he said to more cheers.

Mr. Giuliani sought to make a case that he is uniquely qualified to reduce federal spending, touting his record of cutting income and business taxes, reducing welfare rolls and trimming personnel from the New York City payroll.

While the candidates who spoke at the conference yesterday did not take aim at each other, Mr. Giuliani wound up in a charged battle with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has long complained about overspending by the Republicans.

Mr. Romney said Mr. Giuliani fought to eliminate a line-item veto — a tool that can be used to greatly reduce pork-barrel spending and excessive earmarks.

“While I was governor, I used the line-item veto more than 844 times,” he said in a speech last night. “I know how to veto. It’s familiar to me. I even miss it sometimes.”

The Romney campaign directly attacked the former New York mayor, sending out an e-mail titled: “Giuliani Left The New York City Budget A Mess.” Another mailing, titled “Big City, Big Spender,” noted that as mayor, Mr. Giuliani sued the state’s Republican governor to keep a $360 million commuter tax in place.

Mr. Giuliani’s campaign responded that Mr. Romney offered no tax cuts during his four years as Massachusetts governor, referring to “Romney’s Taxachusetts.” The ex-mayor’s campaign also noted that he supports a presidential line-item veto as one of his 12 campaign commitments.

In addition, the Giuliani campaign pointed out that Mr. Romney earned a “C” on his fiscal record from the libertarian Cato Institute, which criticized a $500 million increase in fees Mr. Romney enacted shortly after taking office.

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