|NY Times, January 4, 2007
Awaiting Bush’s Iraq Plan, Democrats Weigh Replies
By JEFF ZELENY
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 -- Some key Senate Democrats say they could consider supporting a short-term increase in American troop levels in Iraq, a stance that reflects division within the party and could provide an opening for President Bush as he prepares to announce his revised plan for Iraq as early as next week.
Mr. Bush is expected to outline a strategy that would include adding to American forces, but would link that increase to a plan for economic development in Iraq. He has vowed to consult Congressional leaders before delivering his speech to the nation, and he began that process on Wednesday night by inviting House and Senate leaders to a White House reception, though officials said Iraq was not discussed.
Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who will lead the Armed Services Committee, said he would not “prejudge” the president’s proposal. While he would oppose an open-ended commitment, Mr. Levin said, he would not rule out supporting a plan to dispatch more troops if the proposal was tied to a broader strategy to begin reducing American involvement and sending troops home.
“The American people are skeptical about getting in deeper,” he said in an interview. “But if it’s truly conditional upon the Iraqis’ actually meeting milestones and if it’s part of an overall program of troop reduction that would begin in the next four to six months, it’s something that would be worth considering.”
NY Times, January 4, 2007
The Democrats’ Cautious Tiptoe Around the President’s Tax Cuts
By EDMUND L. ANDREWS
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 -- President Bush is all but daring Democratic leaders to attack his signature tax cuts as they take over Congress. But Democrats, perhaps to his frustration, are having none of it.
In an opening salvo on Wednesday, Mr. Bush proclaimed that he would present a budget next month that manages to project a balanced budget by 2012 while permanently extending more than $1 trillion in tax cuts.
“It is also a fact that our tax cuts have fueled robust economic growth and record revenues,” Mr. Bush wrote in an op-ed article for The Wall Street Journal. “We met our goal of cutting the deficit in half three years ahead of schedule.”
The implicit message, which Republican lawmakers reinforced later, was that their tax cuts were popular with voters, that Republicans had proven the economic benefits of tax cuts and that Democrats would court disaster if they even hinted at rolling them back or repealing them.
But even as Democratic leaders continue to accuse Mr. Bush of having a reckless fiscal policy, they have refused to discuss dismantling his tax cuts or even to engage in a debate with him about the best way to stimulate economic growth.
“It’s always the same old tired line with them ‘Tax and spend, tax and spend, tax and spend,’ ” said Senator Kent Conrad, the North Dakota Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “We’re not going there.”