While demanding that the federal government restrain its spending to a 4.1 percent increase in 2004, the Bush White House has assigned itself a more lenient standard: It has proposed a 9.3 percent increase in funding for the ongoing operations of the White House.
Democrats say the administration is guilty of a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do mentality.
The White House says various hidden security costs account for the increase.
For the Executive Office of the President, the broad category including most White House operations, the administration has requested $341.2 million for fiscal 2004. That compares with a request of $312.2 million for fiscal 2003 -- excluding $16.8 million for the White House Office of Homeland Security that was switched to the Department of Homeland Security budget for 2004.
Amy Call, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the increase for the White House would only be 3.8 percent if one does not subtract the costs that have moved elsewhere.
Even without the $16.8 billion from 2003 that the White House is shifting elsewhere in fiscal 2004, Call said various "security related" factors have increased costs for 2004.
"I wouldn't want to say it's the bulk, but it certainly is a contributing factor," she said.
President Bush has proposed holding discretionary spending (excluding programs such as Social Security and Medicare) to $782.2 billion, a 4.1 percent increase.
"I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by 4 percent next year -- about as much as the average family's income is expected to grow," the president said in his State of the Union address last month. "And that is a good benchmark for us. Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families."
Democrats charged that the administration is being hypocritical in requesting a larger increase than it would allow for the government overall.
"George Bush's credibility problem is once again rearing its ugly head," said David Sirota, spokesman for the Democratic members of the House Appropriations Committee. "He's preaching the virtues of frugality while trying to pocket a huge raise for his own office."
Among the various White House departments, the Office of Administration -- which includes information technology, procurement and other support functions -- would receive a 10.1 percent increase. The Office of Management and Budget would get a 9.3 percent boost, while funding for the U.S. Trade Representative would rise 14.5 percent.
The only unit scheduled for a cut in funding is the White House Office of Policy Development.
The Bush administration's budget would hold the category covering the expenses and salaries of the president's top aides to a 3.7 percent increase.
The increase in funds for the president's executive residence would be limited to 2.5 percent, while the vice president's office and residence would be held to a 1.4 percent boost.
On the other hand, funding for repair and restoration of the White House would more than triple, to $4.2 million, while the National Security Council is scheduled for an 11.6 percent increase.
One of the largest increases, 30.1 percent, is for the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which had to relocate its offices after part of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building was closed for security reasons.
As part of its budget request, the administration is seeking a consolidation of various categories within the White House. The administration would group into one the president's compensation, the White House Office (staff salaries and expenses, including those of the Office of Homeland Security), the executive residence, White House restoration, policy development, the NSC, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of Administration.
Bush would also allow various departments to transfer 10 percent of their funds to other departments.
"This initiative provides enhanced flexibility in allocating resources and staff in support of the president and vice president, and permits more rapid response to changing needs and priorities," the budget request says.
The original fiscal 2003 request for the Executive Office of the President was for $329 million. That included $24.8 million for the Office of Homeland Security, and all but $8 million of that was shifted to the new Department of Homeland Security for 2004.