- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Vice President Al Gore condemned George W. Bush's tax-cut proposals yesterday, accusing his Republican presidential rival of proposing an economic agenda "built on a foundation of irresponsibility and risk."

But as soon as Mr. Gore leveled his attack, the Bush campaign replied with a counterattack, charging that while the Texas governor was trying to cut taxes, the vice president was proposing a whopping $1.9 trillion in "new spending increases on bigger government."

Releasing a three-page itemized list of what Mr. Gore's spending proposals would cost over the next 10 years, Bush campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer said that "Gore's spending plan is nearly 50 percent bigger than Bush's tax cut."

With the latest polls showing Mr. Bush running nine percentage points ahead of him in the presidential race, Mr. Gore escalated his attacks on the Texas governor calling Mr. Bush's five-year, $483 billion tax-cut proposals "casino economics."

In a speech before the Association for a Better New York, Mr. Gore warned that Mr. Bush's policies to give back about half of the estimated $2 trillion in non-Social Security budget surpluses would wreck the economy.

"The Bush tax plan could shatter confidence in our economy sending a message to the world that under George W. Bush, the era of fiscal responsibility is over. It could raise interest rates, hurt investment, put all our prosperity at risk, and drive us into inflation and recession," he said.

Part of Mr. Gore's broadside attack repeated the criticisms leveled at Mr. Bush's tax plan by Sen. John McCain, his former Republican rival during the presidential primaries.

"As John McCain has pointed out, most of the benefits of the Bush tax scheme would go to the few who already have it the most," he said.

But Bush campaign officials said that there was more than enough money in a total $4 trillion unified budget surplus over the next 10 years to cut taxes, pay down much of the debt, to shore up Social Security, protect Medicare, and boost spending for defense and other budget priorities.

Mr. Bush's budget advisers say that their tax cuts are based on conservative assumptions about economic growth, tax revenues and spending, and that the tax surpluses will probably be much higher than currently projected.

Recent government budget estimates report that a booming economy and sharply higher capital gains scored on the stock market will push this year's budget surplus to $210 billion, or about $40 billion higher than earlier forecasts.

In a written defense of Mr. Bush's tax-cut plan, economic adviser Martin Anderson said that contrary to Mr. Gore's criticism, lower-income workers would receive significant tax-cut benefits under his proposal.

"Bush's tax cut reduces the income-tax rate by one-third on low incomes, reduces all other tax rates by a smaller amount and doubles the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000," Mr. Anderson said.

"The result? Every working American gets a tax cut. If you have children, you get a bigger tax cut. And the lower your taxable income, the higher your tax cut," he said.

Mr. Gore charged that Mr. Bush's tax cut could reignite the deficits "in the Bush-Quayle years" and "provides for no reduction in debt."

But Mr. Bush's chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, said that Mr. Bush's plan would dedicate all of the estimated $2 trillion in Social Security surpluses over the coming decade to debt repayment.

Mr. Bush was campaigning in Dayton, Ohio, yesterday, pushing his tax-credit initiatives to help lower-income Americans with health insurance and savings. He said his proposals would help expand the nation's economic prosperity "to all those who live in the shadow of prosperity."

At the same time, Mr. Bush and four Democratic legislators from Texas were promoting his reputation for working with Democrats to achieve bipartisan policy goals.

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