WASHINGTON -- President Bush's $2.6 trillion budget plan working its way through Congress is dishonest, irresponsible and violates the core values of average Americans, said Bush's former rival for the presidency, Sen. John Kerry.
"This budget is like an Enron budget: smoke the numbers, cook the books, hide the truth and hope no one finds out," Kerry, who was last year's Democratic presidential nominee, said in prepared remarks for a speech Thursday.
Kerry criticized the Republican leadership's priorities in a budget that includes proposed cuts in health care and education and up to $106 billion in tax cuts over the next five years.
And he said the budget fails to acknowledge ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan that could cost up to $400 billion over the next 10 years, as well as the cost of Bush's key priority — Social Security reform.
The Massachusetts senator said the budget will pile up almost $6 trillion in new debt, while giving tax cuts to the rich.
Republican leaders argue that the plan preserves tax cuts that have wide support across the country and works to curtail spending that exceeds budget limits.
Kerry, who worked unsuccessfully with other Democrats and at times some Republicans this week to defeat specific provisions in the budget proposal, said the debate "should remind all Americans that Washington does not always work for them."
"Honesty, opportunity and responsibility were all cut from this budget," Kerry said in his speech prepared for the Center for National Policy.
© 2005 The Associated Press