Bush to talk Social Security in Truman's hometown
Democrats take aim with TV ads
By Major Garrett
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (CNN) -- President Bush goes to Harry Truman's hometown Tuesday to tout his plans for preserving Social Security and Medicare -- and Democrats will greet him with TV ads accusing him of "raiding" both programs.
The Democratic National Committee plans to launch a "small" ad buy on Tuesday and Wednesday, targeted at journalists and political junkies. In addition to Independence -- Truman's hometown in Missouri -- the ads will run in Washington, D.C.; Waco, Texas; and Salisbury, Maryland.
Waco is near Bush's ranch, where he has been vacationing, while Salisbury's TV market covers the beach cities of Ocean City, Maryland, and Rehoboth, Delaware, where many Washingtonians vacation.
Bush will use his speech in Independence to say his budget plans protect Medicare and Social Security and that his tax cut will boost economic growth.
According to senior White House aides, Bush will say Social Security tax revenues are safe and that Medicare benefits will be paid.
The White House chose Independence for symbolic reasons -- President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965 as a tribute to Truman, the first president to propose national health insurance.
The president will also use the speech to warn against Democratic attempts to boost spending this fall over the limits set in the budget.
The DNC ads accuse Bush of jeopardizing Social Security and Medicare. The central allegation is the budget surpluses have shrunk from a projected $281 billion in February to $158 billion in August. Democrats argue this brings the budget close to spending excess Social Security revenue, something Bush has vowed never to do.
"The Bush budget violates one of Harry Truman's basic principles -- protecting seniors," the ad says.
The Democrats also say the smaller surplus means Washington is spending funds Republicans had vowed to set aside for all Medicare expenses. To cover Social Security tax revenue and Medicare operating expenses would require a surplus of roughly $207 billion, Democrats say.
The Republican National Committee dismissed the ad campaign.
"It's another attempt by the Democrats to use special interest money to attack the president," said Trent Duffy, spokesman for the RNC. "It has not worked before, and it won't work now."
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