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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Vows To Double SEC Funds

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush said Saturday he would propose the largest-ever increase in the Securities and Exchange Commission's budget, promising to restore investor confidence by cracking down on corporate crime and boosting the economy with tax cuts.

The 2004 budget proposal, which calls for nearly doubling SEC funding to $842 million over fiscal 2002 levels, could help insulate Bush from Democratic charges that he was soft on corporate fraud after a wave of boardroom scandals, starting with the collapse in fall 2001 of energy trader Enron Corp.

"The SEC and the Justice Department are the referees of corporate conduct. Under my budget, they will have every resource they need to enforce the laws that punish fraud and protect investors," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

While key Democrats welcomed the commitment, they questioned why Bush would wait until the next fiscal year to provide the funding.

"Better late than never. But why late? He's trying to finesse it with rhetoric rather than really doing the job," said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee.

To further shore up investor confidence, Bush pressed Congress to approve his 10-year, $674 billion economic package, which would eliminate taxes on most corporate dividends, accelerate across-the-board cuts in tax rates and offer more relief to married couples and families with children.

Democrats and some Republicans have criticized the plan as a windfall for the wealthy that would provide little immediate help to the economy -- and cash-strapped states -- while swelling the federal budget deficit.

"We cannot have a full economic recovery -- we cannot ensure the security of this country -- while the states are in the midst of the worst fiscal crisis in half a century," New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said in the Democrats' weekly radio address.

Bush said his fiscal 2004 budget for the SEC would be 73 percent higher than 2002 levels and the largest increase in the history of the market-regulating agency.