The country has "not mortgaged the future" to pay for its 70-month economic expansion, the president's chief economist said Wednesday, countering Democratic charges.

Beryl Sprinkel, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, predicted a cooling economy would stabilize inflation and interest rates for the rest of the year, if present policies continue.Sprinkel said the expansion, which is in its 70th month and already a year longer than any other in U.S. history, is "real, substantial and sustained."

"We have not mortgaged the future . . . so long as the basic thrust of present policy remains intact," he said. "Expansions do not die of old age; they die of inept policies."

While officially maintaining it was not appropriate to discuss politics, Sprinkel endorsed Vice President George Bush's campaign promise not to raise taxes.

"A tax increase would probably raise revenues," Sprinkel said. "But we would end up with a larger government and a weaker private sector with slower job growth and more unemployment."

Sprinkel denied claims made by Democrats in this presidential election year that the middle-class has been squeezed out of the benefits of the improvement, while the poor have languished in poverty.

He said studies by the council's staff show that, contrary to Democratic claims, 92 percent of the new jobs created in the expansion are full-time jobs and two-thirds of the new jobs have been in the higher paying occupations.