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The economic outlook of the White House budget director

Jim Nussle strikes a note of caution on government finances as the economy potentially slows down.

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Washington - In the midst of a budget clash between Congress and the White House, Office of Management and Budget Director Jim Nussle offered a note of caution on how an economic slowdown could affect government finances at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast Wednesday.

Mr. Nussle spoke to reporters the day after what The Washington Post called "a full-scale battle" broke out in Washington on federal budget issues. The tussle began Tuesday when President Bush vetoed the $606 billion health and education spending bill, which is a top priority for Democrats. In discussing his sixth veto, the president charged the Democratic majority with acting "like a teenager with a new credit card."

Later the same day, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said Congress will not authorize additional funds for the war in Iraq without a commitment by Mr. Bush to begin bringing the troops home. The House and Senate were slated to act this week on legislation that would provide $50 billion in war funding and set a goal of ending combat by December 2008. Senator Reid said that if Bush vetoes the measure, "then the president won't get his $50 billion."

"Hopefully just bluster is what I would call what Reid said," Nussle told reporters. "I hope that is all it is and not a serious leadership or legislative position. I hope that the bluster is because he is getting a lot of … blowback from the far left here. But it doesn't answer the question of how are you going to responsibly fund that which we have asked our men and women to do in harm's way."

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