DAVENPORT, Iowa – President Bush once again reminded Congress Monday that the budget is the people's money and requires fiscal discipline so as not to break the bank.
And, in a far-reaching speech that allowed him to piggyback a fund-raiser for Rep. Jim Nussle, R-Iowa, chairman of the House Budget Committee, Bush again emphasized getting rid of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
"If you overspend, it creates a fundamental weakness in the foundation of economic growth," the president told workers at a Sears manufacturing company in Davenport, Iowa, one of the largest makers of truck seats in the region.
The president slammed the Democratic-led Senate for not passing an overall budget, and argued that they should do so while making defense spending the first priority.
The House has already passed a defense spending bill, but none of the 13 spending bills required for the fiscal year that starts in three weeks has been completed.
"They have no plan to balance the budget," Bush told workers at a Sears manufacturing plant in Davenport, Iowa. "If you have no budget, it means there's no discipline. And if there's no discipline, it's likely that the Senate will overspend. And when they overspend, they not only overspend for this year, this coming year, they'll overspend for every year afterwards, too. For the sake of fiscal sanity, the United States Senate must remember whose money we're spending and get us a budget and get us ahead toward a balanced budget."
The Congressional Budget Office is now warning that the budget surplus is dead until last year's $1.35 trillion tax cut expires. It also predicts a $157 billion deficit this year.
Republicans, who want to make the tax cuts permanent, said the CBO numbers are not surprising considering the recession and the costs of the war on terrorism.
Bush argued that the $1.35 trillion tax cut came at the right time to get the economy rolling again, and called on Congress to make it permanent.
That economic debate has not been central for Republicans focused on the November election. They are stressing defense and national security, but it is a mainstay of Democratic electioneering.
And while Bush, who is hoping to raise $225,000 for Nussle, said politics is not at issue, it was not very far from the scene.
"My message to the Congress is: Don't forget there are still some people trying to find work. And we need to work together -- put aside all this Republican politics stuff and Democrat stuff -- and work together to make sure the economy is strong and vibrant and the great American worker can find work. And at the same time we've got to remember that there's still an enemy out there that's trying to hit us," said Bush, who was joined onstage by Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, also in a tough re-election fight.
Overall, the president has raised $111 million in 52 campaign appearances this year.
In other issues, Bush repeated his call for more flexibility in the Department of Homeland Security that is being crafted in Congress, and threatened to veto the bill, if the Senate insists on language that would allow the workers to keep their current civil service and union protections.
"We'll protect workers' rights. We'll protect the collective bargaining rights for those who want to join a union at the federal level. But I need flexibility. The House passed a good bill. The Senate better not pass a bad bill, otherwise I will veto it," he said.
Bush also said that if the United Nations fails to act on a resolution for dealing with Saddam, the United States will look for other satisfactory solutions.
"If the Iraq regime continues to defy us and the world, we will move deliberately, yet decisively to hold Iraq to account. We owe this to our children," he said.
The president's chief economic advisor, Larry Lindsey, says war with Iraq could cost as much as $200 billion, which is four times the Pentagon's estimate. The White House said that is hypothetical, and that the president still has a number of options available for dealing with Saddam Hussein and has made no decision yet.
Fox News' Wendell Goler and the Associated Press contributed to this report.