- The Washington Times - Friday, June 8, 2001

After less than 20 weeks in office, President George W. Bush signed the 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax-relief legislation yesterday, fulfilling his principal campaign promise in record time. With the federal tax burden now commanding as much of economic output as it did when it peaked at its record level at the height of World War II, the tax cut signed yesterday will represent much-needed relief for overtaxed Americans. Reminiscent of the growth-producing tax cuts engineered by President Reagan, it will be the largest tax cut in two decades.

Obviously relishing the moment as he signed the bill, Mr. Bush could not help but comment on the issue´s amazing evolution. "A year ago, tax relief was said to be a political impossibility," Mr. Bush recalled. "Six months ago, it was supposed to be a political liability," he said, adding, "Today, it becomes reality." As Mr. Bush was quick to note, it was a major bipartisan achievement. Twelve Democratic senators joined a nearly unanimous Republican caucus in a solid 58-33 vote, while the measure garnered a majority vote greater than 60 percent in the narrowly divided House, where 28 Democrats voted for it.

As a consequence of implementing the new 10 percent personal income-tax rate retroactive to Jan. 1, checks for $600 will be mailed beginning next month to families who earned at least $12,000 in taxable income last year, while singles who earned $6,000 in taxable income can expect to receive a $300 refund. And that is just the down payment. Beginning July 1, the first of a series of tax-rate reductions will be implemented, and by next January lower withholding rates with increase the take-home pay for all workers. Later, the marriage penalty will be alleviated and the estate, or death, tax will be repealed. Owing to a quirk in the Senate´s budget rules, however, the tax cut had to be sunset after 10 years in order to pass with fewer than 60 votes. So the next order of business on the tax-relief front should be to make these tax cuts permanent, a project that is already percolating in the House.

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