WASHINGTON — The Bush re-election campaign on Sunday upped the ante on how much it claims taxpayers would have to pay for Sen. John Kerry's spending proposals, saying it would top $1 trillion over 10 years.
That's about $100 billion more than President Bush had accused the Massachusetts Democrat of eyeing in terms of new programs in a campaign commercial that began airing earlier this month.
"The president has put out a budget," Bush's campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, said Sunday. "We have not seen a budget from Senator Kerry."
The Republican National Committee today "will be unveiling a spendometer which will be a tool which will allow a continuing update of the spending that Senator Kerry has proposed," Mehlman said.
In his television commercial, Bush claimed Kerry has proposed programs that would amount to a $900 billion tax increase. Kerry immediately rejected that as bogus.
On Sunday, the Bush campaign countered with a compendium of Kerry proposals that it said it culled from, among other things, news accounts of the Massachusetts's senator's campaign, and said they would cost $1.017 trillion over 10 years.
Kerry has said that he wants to extend health insurance to millions of uninsured people and cut costs for those who already have coverage. He has said he would roll back tax breaks for wealthier Americans as part of a plan to offset those costs.
Bush's re-election campaign asserted Sunday that 28 of Kerry's campaign promises would cost $1.7 trillion over 10 years and said the specific proposals he has offered to pay for that would generate only about $700 billion in new government revenue, leaving the more than $1 trillion "tax gap."
"George Bush's tax policies have cost America's workers 3 million jobs and driven us into the largest budget deficit in the nation's history," David Wade, a spokesman for the Kerry campaign in Ketchum, Idaho, said Sunday.
"Despite their credibility gap, the Bush team wants to mislead America about John Kerry's economic policies," he said. "John Kerry will cut taxes on the middle class, roll back the Bush tax cut for the wealthiest Americans and cut the budget deficit in half. That's the kind of change that Americans want and they won't be diverted from voting for it by Republican scare attacks."
The Kerry campaign had said earlier, however, that in light of changing economic conditions, it is reviewing proposals they have put on the table. "We will put out a detailed budget sometime in the future that shows how to get us back on track," campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said.
Various estimates have indicated that Kerry's plan to repeal tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans would save about $250 billion over 10 years. The Bush campaign estimated that Kerry's revenue-raising proposals would total around $700 billion, effectively leaving the country with a more than $1 trillion tax increase.
Mehlman maintained that Kerry's spending proposals "will cost each household an average of $15,500 over 15 years."