WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W. Bush was travelling Thursday to promote larger tax cuts, after the U.S. Senate narrowly halved his original proposal.
He spoke Thursday morning to an audience of factory workers at a plant in the Midwestern state of Ohio.
"The best way to create demand for goods and services is to let people have more of their own money," Bush said. "And that's why tax relief is important in the year 2003."
Bush's original proposal was for a tax cut totalling about 700 billion dollars over 10 years, with faster reductions in personal tax rates, tax breaks for small businesses and elimination of the double taxation of corporate dividends.
In recent weeks, the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution capping the tax cuts at 550 billion dollars, while a cap of 350 billion dollars was passed in the Senate - after a few senators from Bush's Republican Party supported opposition Democrats seeking a lower figure. The two chambers have yet to agree on a compromise.
While pressing for a tax cut above the Senate's cap, Bush declared partial victory.
"The debate over whether we ought to have tax relief is over," he said. "Now we're talking about how big the package out to be and what it ought to look like. And I've got some ideas about how big it ought to be."
One of the Republican tax mavericks, Senator George Voinovich, is from Ohio, and Bush's visit to the state was seen as an effort to appeal directly to a key senator's constituents. Voinovich and others in Congress have cited concerns about growing federal budget deficits in their support for smaller tax cuts.
"Some in Congress say the plan is too big. Well, it seems like to me they might have some explaining to do," Bush said. "If they agree that tax relief creates jobs, they why are they for a little-bitty tax relief package?"
Accompanied by several Ohio politicians, including Ohio's other senator, Mike DeWine, but not Voinovich - Bush cited economic estimates that a tax cut package of at least 550 billion dollars would stimulate the sluggish U.S. economy and create at least one million new jobs by the end of next year.
"The (tax cut) package needs to be robust so that we can create more than a million new jobs by the end of 2004," he said. "That's good for the American worker, and that's what the whole purpose of the package is, to create the conditions for job growth so people can find work."
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