Bush Visits Hill to Applaud GOP’s Tax Measure

Posted May 22, 2003 at 11:45am

President Bush traveled down Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday to congratulate Republican leaders on their tax-cut agreement, saying it would create jobs and put money in the pockets of average Americans.

“The vice president and I came up to congratulate the Speaker and the [Senate Majority] Leader on a season of accomplishment,” Bush said. “This is a Congress which is able to identify problems facing the American people and get things done.”

“These are can-do people,” he added, referring to the understanding Republican leaders reached Wednesday that paves the way for Congress to pass a $350 billion tax package.

“The principle of the bill is pretty simple. … The more money people have in their pockets, the more likely it is somebody is going to be able to find work in America,” he said. “I am looking forward to signing this bill. This bill … is good for American workers, it is good for American families, it is good for American investors and it’s good for American entrepreneurs and small-business owners.”

Despite the president’s plaudits, Democrats continued to deride the Republican plan as doing too little too late and adding too much to the national debt.

Only $56 billion of the tax cuts are effective this year, when they are most needed, said Senate Budget ranking member Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), pointing out that this year’s total is only 17 percent of the total entire. And Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said the tax bill’s implementation would explode the debt to $12 trillion by 2013, the year it expires.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Republicans were not being honest with the American people and characterized their plan as being “simply not on the level,” because it purports to stay within the $350 billion limit set by the Senate but uses “gimmicks” to do so.

Conferees are set to meet at 2 p.m. to formally approve the agreement Republican leaders struck Wednesday.

The final package will reduce the top tax rate for capital gains and dividend income to 15 percent, not include “off-sets” to pay for the tax cuts and give states $20 billion in aid.

Congress is expected to pass the bill before adjourning Friday for the Memorial Day recess — a break Bush called “well-deserved.”