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Democrats: Do the math on Bush plan

Gephardt, Daschle
Gephardt, left, and Daschle said they doubted the president's plan but would work with him on reform  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In their response to George W. Bush's address to Congress Tuesday night, Democrats said the president's budget proposals would threaten the nation's financial security, but they pledged to work with Bush as he brought new proposals to Congress.

"If what the president said tonight sounds too good to be true, it probably is," House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Missouri, said. His Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, said Bush's plan "will consume nearly all of the surplus, at the expense of prescription drug coverage, education, defense and other critical priorities."

The Democratic leaders essentially urged Americans to do the math as Bush's tax proposals work their way though Congress.

"President Bush's numbers just don't add up. Ours do," Gephardt said.

Democrats Tom Daschle and Richard Gephardt respond to President Bush's budget proposal
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"Our plan is better. It invests in the greatest needs and highest priorities of our country," he said.

Instead of President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut plan, the Democrats asked Americans to back the party's more modest proposal.

"We agree with the president. We want a significant tax cut this year, but we want a different kind," Daschle said.

"The president's tax plan is far more expensive than the $1.6 trillion he claimed," Daschle added. "When you add interest on debt and all the other hidden costs, the true cost of the president's tax cut is well over $2 trillion."

And the two said Bush was headed down a similar path to the Ronald Reagan presidency that would trigger huge budget deficits.

Daschle said he and Gephardt heard tax-cut proposals similar to Bush's from Reagan in the early 1980s.

"It took us 18 years, four acts of Congress and a lot of hard work by the American people to get out of that ditch," Daschle said. "But working together, we turned record deficits into record surpluses."

Still, the two leaders also offered hopes of cooperation.

Where there is common ground between congressional Democrats and the president, "We will work with him, and work hard, to turn those ideas into laws," Daschle said.

"If he extends his hand, we will grasp it. Tonight, we extend ours," Gephardt said.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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