Some Democrats wary of another Bush visit
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President George W. Bush will drop in on another Democratic retreat Sunday, beginning a week in which the White House hopes to build support for his across-the-board tax-cut plan.
Some Democrats said they are ambivalent about the president's appearance at their Farmington, Pennsylvania, conference.
"It's like having a family reunion and then having an unexpected guest," said Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Michigan. "But he's still a guest."
The organizer of the event, Rep. Martin Frost, D-Texas, said Bush was invited to attend only after a member of his staff heard that someone from the Secret Service had been checking out the resort's security to see if the president could make a quick visit.
"We said, 'We understand you're interested in coming. So, sure, come,'" said Frost, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, said many members are concerned that Bush's talk about bipartisanship won't be backed up by his deeds.
"If he were serious about the talk, he'd be backing electoral reform legislation," said McDermott, adding that he expects House Democrats to question Bush about making House committees more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats in the Senate were able to work out a power-sharing arrangement with Republicans but in the House, many committees are heavily weighted toward the Republicans, even though the GOP has only a slim majority.
Broadcasts feature dueling tax plans
Tax cut plans were the topic of both political parties' weekly radio addresses Saturday as Bush and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota showcased competing tax cut plans that take advantage of record budget surpluses.
Although the two plans are different in their approaches, each side claims its proposals will bolster "working families."
The president said he will send his proposal to Congress this week, but Democrats have already vowed to challenge his $1.6 trillion dollar proposal.
Bush favors an across-the-board tax cut he claims will stimulate the sagging economy, a plan that "reduces taxes for everyone who pays taxes."
"It lowers the lowest income tax rate from 15 percent to 10 percent," the president said. "It cuts the highest rate to 33 per cent, because I believe no should pay more than a third of their income to the federal government."
Daschle, however, suggested that the president's plan would create Reagan-era deficits. He proposed a targeted tax cut instead with an emphasis on paying down the national debt.
"We can't go back to deficit spending," Daschle said. "The tax cut must be affordable and responsible. It can't use up money we need for education, prescription drugs and other necessities.
"The tax cut should be fair," he added. "Everyone should get tax relief, but working families should come first."
Daschle: Pay down debt
Crediting the American people and the Clinton administration for getting rid of the deficit, Daschle said the country still has a $3.5 trillion national debt on which it pays more than $200 billion per year in interest.
The country's top priority should be paying down that debt, he said. "A lower national debt means lower interest rates, which means lower mortgage payments, lower car payments, lower credit-card payments and more jobs."
Bush said his plan would also pay down the debt, but that his top priority is delivering tax relief.
"American families have debts to pay, as well," Bush said. "A tax cut now will stimulate our economy and create jobs."
Daschle disagreed with the president's assessment. "If we protect Social Security and Medicare, the president's tax cut uses up 85 percent of the entire surplus," he said. "It leaves only 15 percent for debt reduction and other critical priorities like good schools for our children, help with prescription drug costs for older Americans and a strong national defense.
"In addition, the president's tax cut leaves almost nothing for the next 10 years for natural disasters or national defense emergencies."
The size of the surplus "is just a guess," Daschle said. "Why should we bet our economic future on something that may not happen?"
Bush: Middle class will benefit
Bush's proposal would also give 43 percent of the tax cut to the nation's wealthiest 1 percent, the Democrat said. "That means, if you make an average of $900,000 a year, under President Bush's plan, you'll get a tax cut of more than $46,000 a year. But if you're an average, working family, you'll get an average tax cut of $227 a year."
Daschle said last time Congress passed a large tax cut, in 1981, the wealthiest Americans got most of the benefits and working families paid the bill.
"Instead of passing another big tax cut that we can't afford -- a tax cut that leaves out middle-class families -- we need a fair, responsible tax cut," Daschle said.
Bush, however, emphasized his belief that it is the middle class who will benefit from his proposal.
"My plan will keep all Social Security money in the Social Security system, where it belongs," the president said. "We will eliminate the death tax, saving family farms and family-owned businesses. We'll reduce the maximum rate on small business income to 33 percent, so they can help create the jobs we need. Above all, my plan unlocks the door to the middle class for millions of hard-working Americans."
In unusual move, Bush speaks to Republican, Democratic retreats
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