(CNSNews.com) - House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) accused President Bush on Monday of making "the wrong moral choice" in setting priorities for the federal budget.
Obey said that while Bush is "pouring mountains of cash into the Iraqi civil war, at the same time he's pouring $60 billion in tax cuts into the pockets of people who make more than a million bucks a year, he is refusing to make investments at home that will make us a stronger and better society with a greater capacity to pay off those long-term debts."
"The American people know that is the wrong economic choice and the wrong moral choice," he said at a briefing in Washington, D.C., on Monday, noting that instead tax dollars should be used to invest in "workers, kids and infrastructure."
"Last November the American people sent two messages to Washington: first, they wanted to change the policy in Iraq, and secondly they want a new set of priorities here at home," he said. "What they are getting instead is a president who is determined to stiff the American people.
"The president is not just telling Congress he doesn't care what they think, he's telling the American people ... he doesn't care," Obey added. "That is not the way things are supposed to work in a democracy."
But last week Bush criticized Congress for "not getting its work done."
"We're near the end of the year, and there really isn't much to show for it," he said. "The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations, and the Senate has wasted valuable time on an endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq.
"And yet there's important work to be done on behalf of the American people," said Bush.
"They have not been able to send a single annual appropriations bill to my desk, and that's the worst record for a Congress in 20 years. One of the important responsibilities of the Congress is to pass appropriations bills. And yet the leadership that's on the Hill now cannot get that job done," he added.
However, Obey noted that under Republican leadership, the House failed to pass any appropriations bills last year as well.
"All we're doing - on a bipartisan basis - is asking that we devote to crucial domestic priorities enough money to equal what the president would have us spend in Iraq in six weeks," Obey said.
"It is simply not credible for the president to ask us to spend 10 times as much in this year for the never-ending war in Iraq and then with a straight face objecting to our efforts to invest one tenth that amount in kids, education, health, science, law enforcement, energy research and medical research on the grounds of fiscal rectitude," he added.
But Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, told Cybercast News Service that the problem is on both sides of the aisle.
"Congress usually does not pass the appropriations bills on time," he said, but added that he supports Bush threatening to veto several of the appropriations bills currently in Congress because they have too many earmarks.
Edwards also said money should not be diverted from the war in Iraq to pay for domestic programs. "The reality is that we still have a huge federal deficit of about $160 billion, so any savings we can get from reducing our force in Iraq should immediately go to eliminating that deficit and then tax reductions," he said.
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