RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – President Bush can’t rejuvenate the U.S. economy with more tax cuts that will drive up the nation’s deficit, Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., said Saturday.

“Deficits drag the economy down, increase interest rates and leave a staggering debt for our children to pay,” the first-term congressman said in delivering the Democratic response to Bush’s weekly radio address.

His remarks came just two days before Bush was to propose a $2.3 trillion budget for the 2005 fiscal year. Democrats expect tax cuts in the budget to add $2 trillion to a national deficit they estimate already stands at $3 trillion.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Bush credited tax cuts with helping right an economy that has only recently started to rebound.

“If President Bush thinks these are good times, I wish he’d been with me when I visited the unemployment office in Rockingham County, North Carolina,” Miller said. “The parking lot was full. I had to drive around the block and finally parked on the grass. …

“I’ve seen the faces of the workers who’ve lost their jobs and don’t know where new jobs are going to come from.”

North Carolina is among the nation’s leaders in job losses. The state lost 12,400 textile jobs during 2003, a drop of 15.8 percent, according to the state Employment Security Commission. The apparel industry watched its work force drop by 5,600, or 17.6 percent, while jobs in furniture production declined by 4,200.

Miller attacked Bush’s declaration that he will trim spending to pay for tax cuts.

“We Democrats are all for cutting wasteful spending,” Miller said. “But last year President Bush thought health care for veterans was wasteful spending and he put funding for education in that category, too.”

He questioned whether Bush would recommend cuts to programs for at-risk children and job training at community colleges, as the president did last year.

“I hope we can put partisanship aside and do what right by those ordinary Americans,” Miller said. “They deserve a budget that addresses their needs, recognizes their challenges and upholds the dignity of their hard work.”

AP-ES-01-31-04 0339EST



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