Washington may still be enjoying the last lazy days of summer, but inside the Capitol, things are just heating up for a battle royale over the budget, reports CBS News' Diana Olick.
Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sent a shot across the Republican bow Sunday, saying, "The Bush White House has had to admit that they've blown the surplus, that they've raided Medicare, Social Security."
Democrats claim that in a mere eight months, President Bush, through tax reductions and refunds, has shrunk the surplus from trillions to billions, putting Social Security in line to be tapped.
Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, chairman of the Republican National Committee, countered that claim: "No benefits are being reduced, and those balances have not been reduced in the Social Security trust fund one dollar. So this is false and misleading."
According to the president's chief economic adviser, the lackluster economy is to blame for the shrinking surplus.
"We're seeing tax revenues come down very, very sharply as a result of the slowdown,", Lawrence Lindsey said on ABC's "This Week." "We've got to put a stop to that, and I think we have with the tax cut."
Democrats argue the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut will eat into funding for promised government programs.
In a speech at a steelworkers picnic in West Mifflin, Penn., Mr. Bush was adamant that the tax reduction is the shot in the arm the economy needs.
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There will, undoubtedly, be plenty of criticism to go around this week, when the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office releases its latest figures. They're expected to show that a government once rolling in dough, may need to dip into Social Security just to stay afloat.
On Monday, Democrats will focus on the shrinking surplus and its effect on education budgets at 35 events in 25 states. The GOP will counter with a television advertising campaign and a new Web site.
Mr. Bush returns to Washington on Thursday and Congress comes back in the first week of September. The two branches of government will do battle over the budget and 13 spending bills that must be passed by lawmakers in the next two months to keep the country running.
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