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President Bush's 2006 budget makes the wrong choices for our nation. As the embodiment of the president's policies, it reflects skewed priorities and runs counter to our deepest held beliefs. The budget embraces the administration's disastrous economic policies while at the same time failing to put forward a vision of what the United States should be. What America needs instead are responsible policies that reflect our values, help bring our nation together, and invest in the future by expanding opportunity.

In this budget, the Bush administration proposes to cut vital domestic investments and services for the middle class and poor, maintains unsustainable tax cuts for the wealthy, and continues to accumulate huge budget deficits. The budget accurately reflects the philosophy that has governed this administration from its first day in office, and is a collection of hard numbers that run counter to a progressive vision of shared prosperity, a just society, and expanding freedoms. The choices made in the budget about how we defend ourselves as a nation—both through military and non-military means—are all too often mired in the memories of a world long since past.

Americans need not accept the budget's gloomy, conservative assessment about what we can accomplish as a nation—an assessment forced upon us by this administration's early decision to reward the very wealthiest with unprecedented tax cuts and its decision to plunge us into a war of choice with a never-ending bill to taxpayers. We need not accept a federal budget that singles out hard-working middle-class families, those who have served our nation, and our society's most vulnerable citizens. Nor need we accept a document that is fundamentally dishonest—one that fails to account for ongoing commitments that our nation cannot afford to break and massive untested programs that our nation simply cannot afford.

There is a better way. Americans deserve an honest budget that reflects their priorities and that honors their hard work. All of us, citizens and lawmakers, have a choice about the direction in which we take our nation. Our budget reflects priorities and values, and now we have the chance to make the right choice. We must cast aside the cramped and conservative blueprint of this White House and instead set priorities that reflect a positive, progressive vision of our nation's future.

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