WASHINGTON – Republicans on Monday unveiled a "spendometer" to show taxpayers just how much they'll have to pay for Sen. John Kerry's (search) spending proposals.
Saying taxpayers will have to pony up more than $1 trillion over 10 years if the Massachusetts senator is elected president and carries out his spending plan, the Bush re-election campaign is trying to convince voters that President Bush's economic plans are better for the country.
Meanwhile, Kerry introduces himself to voters in a television ad unveiled Monday, promising "a new direction for America" from a war-tested Democrat.
Titled "Fought for America," the 30-second ad airing in 17 states beginning Tuesday says Kerry has "the military experience to defend America" and the policies to improve health care and the economy.
"We need to get some things done in this country: affordable health care, rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy, really investing in our kids. That's why I'm running for president," Kerry says in the commercial, which includes footage of him emerging from the jungles of Vietnam more than 30 years ago.
That $1 trillion the GOP is blasting Kerry on is about $100 billion more than Bush had accused the Democratic senator 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 (search) on Monday unveiled a spendometer, (search) "which will be a tool which will allow a continuing update of the spending that Senator Kerry has proposed," Mehlman said. The spendometer was posted on the RNC's Web site, calculating what Republicans are calling Kerry's $1 trillion "tax gap."
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 four-term senator's campaign.
Kerry has said 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.
Mehlman maintained that Kerry's spending proposals "will cost each household an average of $15,500 over 15 years."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.