The White House is prepared to hold fast against heavy-handed politics and Democratic tax hikes, said the newly-installed Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jim Nussle.
“The administration has been very guarded about economic growth,” Nussle said. “They don’t take it for granted, and I don’t take it for granted. The excessive spending or future tax increases could put that in jeopardy.”
“The rhetoric you hear out of their candidates, out of the Congress and their chairmen give you the impression that they are angling for a tax increase,” Nussle said.
Nussle noted the push to open the State Children’s Health Program, or SCHIP, to a larger pool of applicants. The President proposed a $5 billion increase to the program in his budget, but Democrats wanted $30 billion more.
President Bush has warned Congress he will veto SCHIP in their preferred form, which would impose a hefty tobacco tax and direct some middle-income children away from private insurance to government provided care.
“The SCHIP bill is a tax increase,” Nussle said in an interview with Townhall, before speaking at annual conference of FreedomWorks-- a non-profit advocacy group that seeks to lower taxes. “That’s the first one. They didn’t even get a year under their belt before they sent up the first tax increase. Those things signal, or give you clues more tax increases are coming.”
On Monday, 12-year old Graeme Frost, who suffered traumatic brain injuries after a car crash, read the Democratic response to the President’s weekly radio address. “Please don’t veto this bill,” Frost said. “A bunch of children in American really need this.”
Nussle said the President would hold fast to his veto although he would likely lose public support. “There’s no question that it’s politics. So when someone asks ‘will the Democrats score a political victory here?’ Yeah, probably,” Nussle admitted. But, he said, “this President, to some extent, probably digs in more when it looks like politics are being played. He knows children’s health is at stake here. That ought to supercede politics.”
To date, Congress has not delivered any of the 12 annual spending bills to the White House for the President’s signature, although the deadline for doing so was September 30. President Bush has issued several veto threats on these bills because they total more than $23 billion than his original budget request.
Nussle was particularly concerned Congress had not finished their defense bill. “They’ve failed to pass an appropriation bill for defense,” Nussle said. “To me, that doesn’t make any sense in the context of being responsible. You may disagree with the war, but most people do not disagree when you have men and women in harm’s way, you give them the tools to do their job.”
Shortly after Townhall's interview with Nussle, a trio of House Democrats unveiled a plan to issue a new tax as a means to flame anti-war sentiments. House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D.-Wisc.), chairman of the Defense subcommittee on House Appropriations Jack Murtha (D.-Pa.), and Rep. Jim McGovern (D.-Mass.) said they would make a push to raise $140 billion to $150 billion per year in taxes to finance on-going war operations.
In a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday afternoon, Obey said “if you don’t like the cost, shut down the war.”
Nussle’s aide Sean Kevelighan gave Townhall an email response to this plan after the interview. “It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Democrats are looking to raise taxes,” Kevelighan wrote. “In fact, with SCHIP, this will be their second tax increase proposal this week. Unfortunately, in this case it’s a proposal that’s trying to play politics with our troops.”