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Democrats, GOP spar over economic initiatives

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In their weekly radio addresses Saturday, Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for failing to act on initiatives they say are critical to helping Americans weather the rough economy. Each accused the other of becoming mired in partisan politics.

President Bush said Democrats in Congress have dragged their feet on a number of initiatives he has championed, while Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening said Bush's plan would reward his wealthiest supporters while doing "little or nothing" to help those hit hardest by the economic downturn. He called on Congress to pass the Democrats' "responsible" plan.

"The American people want action on an agenda of economic growth, energy and dependence, patients' rights, education, faith-based legislation, all of which are important issues that are stuck in Congress," Bush said.

He urged listeners to prod members of Congress to act. "Let them know you want action not just on national security or homeland security, you want action to protect America's economic security as well."

In addition to proposing an extension of unemployment benefits and cash grants to many of the more than 8 million unemployed in the nation, Bush has proposed a long-term economic plan.

"The House acted quickly on my proposals to aid the unemployed and create jobs. The Senate has not," he said.

Bush also blamed Senate inaction for stalling his energy plan and his plan to encourage charitable giving.

"I know that the Senate is closely divided among Republicans and Democrats, but the American people expect the Senate and its leaders to find a way to work together and bridge their differences," Bush said. "Now is not the time for partisan politics. Now is the time for leadership. It's time to act."

But in the Democrats' radio address, Glendening said it is time for Congress to pass his party's "responsible economic recovery plan."

Like the GOP plan, the Democrats would also extend unemployment benefits. They would also provide health coverage and tax breaks for small businesses, he said.

"The Democratic plan does this responsibly, without compromising the nation's long-term fiscal health."

Glendening accused Republicans of not letting the Democrats' bill come to a vote in the Senate. "Instead they continue to pursue a policy that rewards their most generous financial supporters, while doing little or nothing to help those who are already bearing the brunt of this recession.

"House Republicans even passed a bill that would give 16 of the nation's largest, most profitable companies $7.4 billion worth of tax refunds dating back over the past 15 years.

"Not only is the Republican economic plan irresponsible, but it will not even do what it is supposed to do: jumpstart the economy; create jobs; and boost consumer spending all over the country."

Glendening called the GOP plan "fiscally reckless for the federal budget" and "potentially devastating to state budgets."

The House Republican bill would cost $15 billion over the next three years to states already grappling with budget crunches, he said.

"I urge Republicans in Congress to put the public interest ahead of the special interests, to promote the general welfare over corporate welfare. I urge them to approve a recovery plan that provides immediate relief to the working people of America who need our help and deserve our support."


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