* Obama hammers Bush's "disastrous" economic policies
* Republicans doubt that the tactic will work
(Updates with fresh Obama quotes)
By Ross Colvin
AUSTIN, Texas, Aug 9 President Barack Obama
attacked the economic policies of his Republican predecessor
George W. Bush in Bush's home state on Monday as evidence of
the way Republicans would operate if given power in Nov. 2 U.S.
At a fund-raising event for Democrats in Dallas, where Bush
now lives, Obama said the former president's "disastrous"
policies had driven the U.S. economy into the ground and turned
budget surpluses into deficits.
Obama defended his repeated references to Bush's policies,
saying they were necessary to remind Americans of the weak
economy he inherited from Bush in January 2009.
"The policies that crashed the economy, that undercut the
middle class, that mortgaged our future, do we really want to
go back to that, or do we keep moving our country forward?"
Obama said at another fund-raising event in Austin, referring
to Bush's eight years as president.
In reminding voters about the policies of the unpopular
Bush, Obama is trying to protect his fellow Democrats'
majorities in Congress and limit anticipated Republican gains.
On Nov. 2, voters will choose all 435 members of the House
of Representatives and 37 members of the 100-seat Senate.
Republicans say they doubt Obama's effort to cite Bush as a
reason to vote against them in November will work because
Americans are more concerned about getting or keeping a job.
"When we talk about this 'going back' thing, I notice that
some Republicans say, 'Well, he just wants to bash the previous
administration, he's looking backwards.' ... No, no, no. The
reason we're focused on it is because the other side isn't
offering anything new," Obama said in Austin.
He said later in Dallas that Republicans were simply
offering "retreads" of economic policies that "got us into this
mess in the first place" and had no new ideas to offer voters.
One part of Bush's legacy remains a subject of intense
debate in Washington -- the tax cuts for all Americans he
steered through Congress in 2001 and 2003.
These expire at the end of this year, and a pitched battle
has begun over whether to extend all or part of them.
Obama and the Democrats say tax cuts for those making more
than $250,000 a year should be ended to help close the U.S.
budget deficit. Republicans argue that no taxes should rise in
a time of economic peril.
Obama, grappling with the worst recession since the Great
Depression of the 1930s, 9.5 percent unemployment, wars in
Afghanistan and Iraq, soaring budget deficits and an impatient
electorate, said all that Republicans have done is try to
obstruct him at every turn.
'LACK OF SERIOUSNESS'
He said he has made tough decisions such as bailouts for
the U.S. auto industry because he was not elected "to do what
was politically expedient at the moment."
"There's been a fundamental lack of seriousness on the
other side," Obama said.
Between political events, Obama gave a speech about the
need to improve the U.S. education system.
The White House shrugged off a decision by Bill White, the
Democratic nominee for Texas governor, not to attend Obama's
events on Monday in Texas, a heavily Republican state.
"He definitely does not take that as an insult," White
House spokesman Bill Burton said, referring to Obama.
The state's current governor, Rick Perry, a Republican
running for re-election and said to be pondering a 2012
presidential run, made his presence known shortly after Air
Force One landed in Austin.
Perry handed Obama aide Valerie Jarrett a letter from him
asking for more federal assistance to tighten up security along
the U.S.-Mexican border.
"Drug cartels and related forces are waging war in Northern
Mexico, their tactics including death threats, torture, car
bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and beheadings," Perry
Last week, the U.S. Senate approved a bill adding $600
million to border security efforts, a measure that the House of
Representatives might also pass this week.
(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Caren Bohan;
Editing by Will Dunham)