US President George W Bush has sharpened his attack on Democratic opponent Senator John F Kerry on economic and welfare issues, calling him a "tax and spend liberal", while describing himself as a "compassionate conservative."
Addressing the last of the three nationally televised debates between him and Kerry, he said on Thursday, "clarify the differences in our records, our approaches and our plans for the future."
"My record is one of lowering taxes, of reforming education, providing prescription drug coverage to seniors, improving our homeland protections and waging an aggressive war against the ideologues of hate."
"The Senator's record is 20 years out-of-the-mainstream votes, without many significant reforms or results," he said.
"The Senator believes in a bigger government. I believe in more freedom and choices for the citizens of this country. The Senator believes government ought to dictate. I believe you (the people) ought to decide," he said.
"Once again he said (in the third debate) with a straight face that his healthcare plan is not a government plan. I could barely contain myself when I heard that. Twenty-two million people would enroll on a government programme under his plan. That would be the largest expansion of government health care ever. His plan would be an overpriced albatross that would saddle small business with 225 new mandates."
"I want to make healthcare more affordable and available by helping small businesses, not by saddling them with a bunch of regulations," he said.
In an apparent reference to Kerry's condemnation of outsourcing, Bush said, "to create jobs, we need to reject economic isolationism and open up markets for US products. We can compete with anybody, any time, anywhere, as long as the rules are fair. To create jobs, we need to be wise about how we spend your money and keep your taxes low."
"My opponent has his own history in the economy. In 20 years as a Senator, he has voted to raise taxes 98 times. That is a vote for a tax increase about five times every year he has served in the Senate."
"Last Friday, the Senator promised not to raise taxes on anyone who earns less than $200,000 a year. The problem with that is, to keep that promise he must break all his other ones," said Bush.
"His plan to raise taxes on the top two income brackets will raise about $600 billion but his spending promises will cost more than $2.2 trillion -- almost four times as much. The choice in this election is clear when it comes to taxes. Tell your friends and neighbours he has had a history of voting to raise taxes, and he has promised to raise them in this campaign," Bush said."And that is the kind of promise a Washington politician usually keeps. I believe our families and our economy are better off when Americans keep more of what they earn. In a new term, I will work with the United States Congress to keep your taxes low," he added.