On the June 19 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN chief national correspondent John King failed to challenge outgoing Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Robert Portman's claim that while the Republicans lost their congressional majority because voters believed they were "not as focused on wisely spending the taxpayers' dollar," President Bush "has stood up for" doing so. In fact, Bush signed every appropriations bill passed by the Republican-controlled Congress, which produced large budget deficits.
On July 19, 2006, Bush vetoed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, his only veto of legislation passed by the Republican-controlled Congress. On May 1, he vetoed the emergency supplemental war spending bill passed by the Democratic Congress, his sole veto of an appropriations bill.
As Media Matters for America has documented, on August 10, 2005, Bush signed into law a $286 billion, six-year transportation bill containing a record number of pork-barrel pet projects inserted by members of Congress -- 6,371, according to The Washington Post -- this despite the fact that Bush had earlier vowed to veto any bill that exceeded $256 billion. He later raised the limit to $284 billion -- still $2 billion lower than the final cost of the bill.
OMB is currently projecting a deficit of $202.2 billion for fiscal 2007. Since Bush assumed office with a $125.3 billion surplus for fiscal 2001 (which began October 1, 2000), every budget of his presidency has been in deficit, including $352.8 billion in fiscal 2003 and $374.8 billion in fiscal 2004 (all figures in fiscal 2000 dollars).
In response to Portman's statement, King said: "Let me ask, in closing, for your assessment of the current political climate here in Washington."
From the June 19, 4 p.m. ET, edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
KING: Let me show the poll numbers for -- the election results, actually. When Ted Strickland [D-OH] became governor in the last election, he won 60 percent of the vote, only 37 percent of the vote for the Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
Getting in -- obviously a long time between now and 2010, but what happened to the Republican Party in the state of Ohio?
PORTMAN: I think a couple things happened. One, it was a tough year across the board for Republicans. Ethics was a bigger issue, by the way, than Iraq in Ohio, in terms of those independent voters, who normally would have voted for Republicans.
And the other issue that was very big in Ohio, and across the country, for that matter, was spending. People felt as though the Republican Congress, and, in particular, the Republicans in their state, were not as focused on wisely spending the taxpayers' dollar.
And that's something that this president has stood up for. Recently, as you know, we begin to see this distinction of Democrats being for higher spending; the president insisting that we have a reasonable level of spending, but not beyond that.
And, then, on taxes, people also got concerned that maybe Republicans weren't focused enough on keeping taxes low to keep the economy growing.
So, I think those numbers will shift as you begin to see this distinction play out, as it does traditionally with Democrats and Republicans, as the Democrat [sic] majority begins to make more and more promises to spend more and more, and the president continues to stand firm.
KING: Let me ask, in closing, for your assessment of the current political climate here in Washington.