Bush Defends Decision to Cut Taxes During Economic Downturn

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President Bush used his weekly radio address Saturday to defend his decision to cut taxes and warn lawmakers to curtail spending while the economy struggles through a slowdown.

Speaking from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush said the spending cuts of Congress posed a much greater threat to the federal budget surplus and the nation's fiscal recovery than Bush's move to cut taxes just as the economy was slowing.

"The greatest threat to our budget outlook is the danger that Congress will be tempted this fall to break its earlier commitments by spending too much," Bush said. "The old way in Washington is to believe that the more you spend, the more you care. ... My administration takes a new approach. We want to spend your hard-earned money as carefully as you do."

Bush called his tax cut "the right policy at exactly the right time to boost our sagging economy," and predicted, "the faster our economy grows, the stronger the federal budget will be."

The president said his administration is striving to make smart decisions on how to spend the American people's money, pointing to a new report by the Office of Management and Budget that identified 14 systemic management problems in the federal government that lead to waste.

For example, Bush said, the government is on track to spend $45 billion on information technology in 2002, more than is allocated for highways and roads, but this expenditure "has not cut the government's cost or improved people's lives in any way we can measure."

Bush said he'll work with Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, ranking Republican on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and others to "introduce greater competition into government" and make it more responsive to citizens' needs.

"Americans demand top-quality service from the private sector. They should get the same top-quality service from their government," he said.

Earlier this year, Bush directed his Cabinet secretaries to name a chief operating officer to assess the performance of their agencies and serve on a President's Management Council.

The Associated Press contributed to this report