President Bush today put most of the blame for the federal budget deficit on Congress and said he wouldn't lay out his proposals for cutting the red ink because that would undermine talks with Capitol Hill.
"If I outlined the problem now, I'd rely on some of the fact that the Congress appropriates all the money and raises all the revenues. . . . I will point out that people understand that the Congress bears a greater responsibility for this," Bush said at a news conference when asked about his refusal to publicly lay out his plan for cutting the U.S. budget deficit.
"But I'm not trying to assign blame. That's why I'm not doing it right now," he said with a smile as reporters exploded in laughter.
"If I go out now and say what I think . . . I might say something like I just said, and I don't want to do that," a grinning Bush added.
Bush called the talks because higher interest rates, weakness in the economy and rising costs for shoring up the savings and loan industry have pushed the deficit far higher than expected.
The Gramm-Rudman budget law could force automatic spending cuts of more than $70 billion unless a deal is worked out. Cuts of that magnitude would likely hit basic government services and programs and could spell trouble for congressmen seeking reelection in November.