White House Continues Fight For Greater Tax Cuts

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President Bush will continue to urge Congress to pass legislation that cuts taxes by at least $550 billion over 10 years, as agreed to by the House, which approved the fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget resolution, HConRes 95, on April 10. The budget resolution limits the Senate's economic growth package to $322.5 billion from FY 2003 to 2013. To ensure passage of the budget resolution, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, late on April 10 promised Senate moderates that he would not agree to tax cuts exceeding $350 billion in a House-Senate tax conference committee.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on April 14 said that "it remains to be seen what the exact nature of what the senators have agreed to is." He noted that there is "some dispute among senators" about Grassley's pledge to Sens. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, and George Voinovich, R-Ohio, to hold the line on tax cuts at $350 billion.

"From the president's point of view, what's most important is that we create the greatest number of jobs for the American people. Clearly, a tax bill that has only $350 billion worth of tax relief in it will not create as many jobs as a tax bill that has $550 billion or higher for the American people," Fleischer asserted.

Fleischer maintained that "the higher the tax number--even in excess of $550 billion--the more jobs will be created. And that's what the president is going to fight for."

Fleischer continued to defend all of the elements of the president's economic and growth plan, citing in particular the proposal for a 100 percent exclusion for dividends and the accelerated tax cuts provided for by the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (P.L. 107-16).

Bush will promote his tax-cut plan in remarks that he is scheduled to make on April 15, marking the deadline for paying 2002 federal income taxes. Over the two-week congressional recess that will end on April 28, several Cabinet members and sub-Cabinet officials will promote the president's tax-cut proposals in appearances across the nation, Fleischer noted.

By Paula Cruickshank, CCH News Staff

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