Bush Tackles Budget Deficit, Intelligence Failures

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

(2nd Add: Includes comments from Rep. Sue Myrick, chairman of the House Republican Study Committee)

(CNSNews.com) - President George W. Bush said the budget request he's sending to Congress sets "clear priorities," including "fiscal discipline" that will cut the deficit in half over a five-year period of time.

The president, speaking to reporters at the end of a Monday morning Cabinet meeting, also addressed questions about alleged U.S. intelligence failures leading up to the war in Iraq.

"I want to know all the facts," Bush said. He told reporters he is setting up an independent, bipartisan commission "to analyze where we stand, what we can do better as we fight this war against terror."

"We do know that Saddam Hussein had the intent and the capabilities to cause great harm. We know he was a danger. He was not only a danger to people in the free world, he was a danger to his own people. He slaughtered thousands of people, imprisoned people."

Bush said he's invited former weapons inspector David Kay to come to the White House to give him a briefing before he formally names a commission to investigate the intelligence lapse that Kay noted in his recent testimony before Congress.

President Bush said he agrees with the economists who are optimistic about the nation's future, and he once again urged Congress to make the recent tax cuts permanent.

"This Administration promised that its tax cuts and policy choices wouldn't turn record surpluses into record deficits, but this budget shows that's exactly what's happening," said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in a statement Monday.

"The trillions in new debts this Administration has created are being paid for by draining the Social Security nest egg, borrowing money from foreign banks, and cutting programs that help our children. This is a risky and reckless way to run our government," Daschle added.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer also weighed in on the budget.

"It should now be clear to the American people that the originator of the term 'fuzzy math' - George W. Bush - has become its foremost practitioner," said Hoyer in a statement.

"When President Bush took office, he inherited a projected 10-year budget surplus of $5.6 trillion and four consecutive years of surpluses - the first time that had happened in 70 years," he added.

"Now, in the course of three years, the Bush Administration has turned our fiscal ship of state in a dangerous direction that threatens to plunge us into an economic abyss for years to come and force our children to pay our bills for decades," Hoyer said.

"The Administration projects a record deficit of $521 billion in Fiscal Year 2004, eclipsing last year's record deficit by $147 billion," Hoyer said.

"And it projects a deficit of $364 billion in Fiscal Year 2005. But what is perhaps most disturbing is that President Bush is only pretending to have a realistic plan to dig our nation out of the fiscal mess that his policies have created," he added.

"The President's budget, in my judgment, will be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill. As this document makes clear, when it comes to masquerading as a fiscal conservative, President Bush deserves an Academy Award," Hoyer said.

Rep. Sue Myrick, (R-NC), chairman of the House Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of more than 90 House conservatives, responded in a statement to President Bush's budget proposal for fiscal year 2005.

"[Bush's] budget proposes a number of program deductions and terminations. While he showed restraint in several areas, the total spending is still too high. My RSC colleagues and I will continue to work with the President to reduce spending on existing programs, and eliminate duplicitous, obsolete, and non functioning programs," Myrick said.

"Hard working Americans have to watch their spending, and so should Congress. Congress has got to get in the mindset of spending less. I will continue to remind my colleagues in Congress of Americans who expect us to be responsible with their tax dollars," she added.

(CNSNews.com Deputy Managing Editor Melanie Hunter contributed to this report.)

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