Bush campaigns on pocketbook issues

Tuesday, October 24th 2006, 2:40 pm
By: News On 6

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ President Bush appealed on Tuesday to voters keeping tabs on their pocketbooks, saying Democrats would raise their taxes by $500 for every child that sits at the kitchen table if the party gets control of Congress.

In a campaign that has often focused on war, both parties are giving plenty of time to the economy in the final two weeks before congressional elections.

Democrats have been arguing that the middle class isn't benefiting from recent economic gains, and Bush struck back by saying Democrats would raise taxes on families.

``See, they are genetically disposed to raise your taxes,'' Bush said to laughter and applause from Republican donors at a $375,000 fundraiser for Republican House candidate Vern Buchanan.

``If you're sitting around a dinner table and there's two children, your taxes just went up $1,000 if they take control. If you've got three children at the dinner table, your taxes went up by $1,500,'' the president said.

Buchanan, a car dealership owner and businessman, faces banker Christine Jennings for the seat being vacated by Senate candidate Katherine Harris. The seat has been Republican but has become a competitive race in this year of GOP political anxieties.

Republicans are increasingly pessimistic about their chances of keeping control of both chambers of Congress, particularly the House. As House Majority Leader John Boehner told nationally syndicated radio host Mike Gallagher on Tuesday, ``We are the underdog, there's no question about it. We've got the jet stream in our face.''

But both Boehner and Bush said Democrats shouldn't be too confident about their chances.

``I think they may be measuring the drapes,'' Bush joked to the crowd gathered at a convention center. ``If their electoral predictions are as reliable as their economic predictions, Nov. 7 is going to be a good day for the Republicans.''

At Bush's urging, Congress voted five years ago to cut taxes for married couples and parents, including a doubling of the $500-per-child tax credit. The doubling is set to expire in 2010.

Democrats have said they want to extend the tax credit to lower income families who are currently ineligible.

``Democrats who have made fiscal responsibility, a high ethical standard and middle class tax cuts a priority must be a frightening prospect for President Bush and his rubber stamp Congress' failed economic policies and ballooning budget deficits,'' said Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

While in Sarasota, Bush also stopped briefly at Gyrocam Camera Systems, a defense contractor that makes cameras that help detect roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush operated one of the cameras, aiming it at the row of media accompanying him. He told the reporters that his visit there demonstrated his administration's commitment to changing circumstances in Iraq.

Later, Bush was traveling to Boca Raton for a Republican National Committee fundraiser at a private home. The event was closed to the public and the media, but the RNC said $1 million was raised.