Washington, D.C. Top administration officials were on Capitol Hill Tuesday defending President Bush's $3.1 trillion budget plan from complaints by Democrats that it adds almost $800 billion to U.S. debt and doesn't pay for the war in Iraq.
Democrats on two Senate panels tossed brickbats at Bush's budget and some key Republicans criticized it, too, as lawmakers made it plain that they would ignore the president's proposals to cut Medicare and Medicaid spending.
At the Senate Budget Committee, White House budget chief Jim Nussle put in a combative performance, returning criticism of Bush's budget with attacks on lawmakers for not fully funding his long-pending war request and challenging them to join Bush in curbing the rapid growth of benefit programs.
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., slammed the budget for piling $761 billion in debt onto the government's books, both in bonds held by investors at home and abroad and IOUs in the Social Security trust funds.
Top panel Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire again criticized the Bush blueprint for having "some serious flaws from the standpoint of accuracy and even more serious flaws from the standpoint of policy." But he also attacked Democrats for assuming phony revenue boosts when passing a congressional budget plan last year.