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Bush, Democrats claim credit for reform

DeLauro: 'Delay, equivocation and rationalization'

Bush, Democrats claim credit for reform

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush and a Democratic lawmaker sparred on the radio Saturday, praising passage of a bill to tighten controls on corporate accounting while diverging on who should claim credit.

During his weekly radio address, Bush thanked Congress for its "hard work" in passing the legislation, which he said was a response to his call for strong reforms.

But in the Democrats' weekly radio speech, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut noted that a bill authored by Sen. Paul Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, formed the basis for the bill that awaits Bush's signature.

"After the collapse of Enron last fall, Democrats sought real reforms to demand the same kind of accountability and responsibility from powerful corporations that we expect from ordinary people," DeLauro said. "But the response on the other side was delay, equivocation and rationalization for business misconduct."

The president hailed the bill as a bipartisan move to give investors

reason to trust corporate accounting again.

"This legislation will help reassure Americans that our economic system is sound and fair," he said.

DeLauro said it was but a first step toward fiscal responsibility, implying that the Bush administration itself had used some tricky accounting.

"The federal budget has been mismanaged -- and the numbers were misestimated and manipulated -- to justify a $2 trillion tax cut primarily for the wealthy," she said. "Largely because of that, we went from a $5.6 trillion budget surplus over the next 10 years to a $165 billion deficit."

That deficit would be paid for, at least in part, out of Social Security, she said, adding that Democrats were determined not to allow that. Bush urged the Senate to pass his proposals to promote pension safeguards.

Bush also called on the Senate to pass a number of measures he called national priorities, including the Trade Promotion Act passed by the House early Saturday morning, "the largest increase in defense spending since the Reagan years," and a bill creating the Department of Homeland Security.

"The Senate now has one week left to make progress for the American people, and I urge them to act for the priorities of the American people," he said.




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