- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Despite the ongoing economic boom, many Americans have difficulty making ends meet. Married couples often have to stretch beyond the limit to take care of their families. But President Bill Clinton doesn't think these Americans are entitled to an average tax break of $735 a year.

On Sunday, Mr. Clinton vetoed a bill that would have eliminated what is known as the marriage penalty tax. Two-income couples often have to pay more in taxes after getting married than they would if they simply lived together and filed taxes independently. Republicans in Congress have taken the lead in exposing this inequity and in fighting to correct it.

On July 21, the Senate approved by 60-34 the Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000, with the help of only seven Democrats. A day earlier, the House also passed the measure by 271-156, with the support of 51 Democrats. The bill would help offset the marriage penalty by raising the standard deduction for married couples to equal that of two single persons. That would increase the standard deduction from $7,350 to $8,800.

The bill would have also helped lower income families by raising by $2,000 the income limit for families who claim the earned income tax credit. The credit now phases out completely for families earning above $30,850. It would also help lessen the tax burden for more prosperous Americans, by eventually allowing married couples earning $52,500 to be included in the 15 percent income tax bracket. Currently, the cut off for that bracket is $43,850.

It is difficult to understand why the president can't see fit to give married Americans a little tax relief when Washington regularly dolls out billions of dollars to special interests. The best way to protect the taxpayer from this profligacy is to minimize the size of government through tax cuts. This is a cornerstone of presidential candidate George W. Bush's compassionate conservative platform.

Americans work hard for their pay and deserve relief. Lawmakers across the aisle should give the legislation enough votes to override Mr. Clinton's veto, although this looks unlikely given the Democrats' tepid support. Come November, voters will surely remind the Democrats if they make the same mistake twice.

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