Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Monday that President Bush should lay out a security plan for Iraq’s self-rule that involves the United Nations.
“I regret that this administration has not been willing to be less ideological and more practical on behalf of the American people and the global interests that are represented there,” Kerry told reporters.
The four-term Massachusetts senator was reacting to Bush’s statement that he is committed to end the U.S. occupation and transfer power to Iraqis by the June 30 deadline, despite calls that it should be extended because of violence in the country.
Kerry also said the White House should not have scrapped steep tariffs on foreign-made steel in December, but he would not put them back if he is elected. The White House pulled the tariffs under threat of $2.2 billion in retaliatory sanctions from the European Union.
“I wouldn’t re-impose them, but I would have let them play out the way they were promised,” Kerry said. “Once you put them in place, people have expectations. ... And if you, all of a sudden, upset that, you’re really wreaking havoc in the market.”
Bush-Cheney spokesman Kevin Madden said Kerry’s “position on steel tariffs is that he doesn’t have a position,” and added, “his statements are inconsistent and absent any core policy beliefs on what he would do to help the steel industry.”
Kerry spoke to reporters from news organizations in battleground states to tout a study drafted by his campaign that says Bush has proposed more than $6 trillion in unpaid spending over the next 10 years.
The Bush campaign said Kerry greatly overstated program costs. Tim Adams, policy director of the Bush campaign, said Kerry voted for much of the spending he now faults Bush for supporting, including the farm bill, the increased child tax credit, aid for the unemployed and workers displaced by trade.
In some cases, he said, such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit and a better retirement deal for people in the armed forces, Kerry backed even more expensive alternatives than Bush supports, Adams said.
Kerry plans to lay out an updated economic plan Wednesday that offers more detail on how he would pay for his proposals and seeks a return to budget rules that required higher discretionary spending or tax reductions to be offset by program cuts or other tax increases. Kerry has said he will have to scale back some of his campaign promises considering the increasing deficit.
Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman welcomed the latest numbers showing a seventh consecutive month of job creation, which brings the net loss of jobs under Bush to 1.8 million, down from 2.3 million. He said Kerry’s spending plans would “derail this recovery” and his analysis of Bush’s spending had no other purpose than to throw critics off track on the Democrat’s tangled fiscal plans.
New Internet video
Kerry also released a new Internet video Monday that pokes fun at Bush for spending on programs that aren’t balanced on the other side of the ledger.
“George, it looks like you’re having a little trouble with your math,” a teacher says as “My Budget: By George W. Bush” appears on a chalkboard. “What do you mean?” a child’s voice, presumably a young Bush, asks.
The teacher proceeds to outline Bush’s spending, as the child says: “When I’m president, I’m gonna spend as much money as I want.”