Monday, January 23, 2006

Democrats assail Republicans on ethics

Democrats assail Republicans on ethics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats accused Republicans on Saturday of using "doublespeak" and abusing their power in order to help special interest groups.

With Republicans burdened by the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in the weekly Democratic radio address that years of controlling both the White House and Congress had corrupted the Republican Party.

"There is a price to pay for this Republican abuse of power and it can be seen in the present state of our union," Reid said. "Special interests and the well-connected have been rewarded by Republicans while everyone else has been left behind."

The scandal theme is likely to play a role in the run-up to the November congressional elections. Abramoff entered guilty pleas in a wide-ranging bribery investigation that has prompted calls by both parties for reform.

The scandal has implicated at least one member of Congress, Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, and some former aides to Rep. Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican who stepped down as majority leader.

Reid accused Republicans of using "doublespeak" to sell their agenda.

"When they wanted to let energy companies release more pollution into the air, they called it the 'Clear Skies Initiative,'" he said. "When they wanted to let loggers cut down more trees and weaken environmental laws, they called it the 'Healthy Forests Initiative.'

"My favorite Republican doublespeak is when they wanted to give tax breaks to their special interest friends even though it meant adding more than $50 billion to our deficit, they called their effort the 'Deficit Reduction Act,'" he said.

Reid's harsh criticism followed an apology he made this week to Republicans senators for a news release outlining reports of ethical problems, singling out individual senators.

Reid apologized for the tone of the document released by his office, saying it went too far.