- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

NEW ORLEANS George W. Bush yesterday put a face actually, four faces on his $1.3 trillion tax-cut plan.
Standing with Andrew and Margaret Bechac of Mandeville, La. who were holding their daughters, Camille, 1, and Meredith, 4, both in pink dresses the Texas governor detailed how his plan would cut the family's taxes by 77 percent.
Mr. Bechac, a high school football coach and teacher, earns about $40,000 a year. His wife stays at home, raising their two preschool-age children.
Under Mr. Bush's plan, the family, which owns its own house and itemizes deductions, would reduce its tax bill from $2,075 to $475.
"We all want tax relief. We need this tax plan," said Mr. Bechac, 33. He added that, if he could get a $1,600 tax break, he'd put it in "an educational trust fund for my children."
Mr. Bush, under attack by the campaign of Vice President Al Gore, has begun an effort to better explain his tax-cut plan.
While Mr. Gore has repeatedly asserted that Mr. Bush's plan favors only wealthy taxpayers, the vice president's so-called "targeted" $500 billion tax-cut plan would leave the Bechacs out, Mr. Bush said.
"Under Al Gore's tax plan, [they] get no tax relief. The so-called targeted tax cut means that some are targeted out of tax relief," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Gore's plan is aimed generally at the middle class, but is targeted to provide reductions for specific programs and activities. Mr. Bush's reduction would apply to all tax rates, from the top to the bottom.
"I think Mr. Bechac, who's working hard for his family, ought to have more money so he gets to make the decisions for his family rather than the federal government," Mr. Bush said.
The Texas governor said he picked the Bechacs because he wanted to "put a face on the current tax relief package."
"I welcome this tax debate. I hope we debate taxes between now and Election Day," he said.
Gore spokeswoman Kym Spell said she was not familiar with the Bechacs' situation but claimed that, in general, a "family of four with two kids would actually get more" under Mr. Gore's proposal. She said such a family could qualify for credits and savings of more than $2,500.
The Bechacs could send their 4-year-old to preschool at little if any cost under his plan to make preschool affordable for all families. And if the Bechacs invest $1,000 a year for retirement, they would get a $1,000 matching tax credit and a $150 tax deduction, according to the Gore campaign. They could also get new tax breaks to save for college.
In all, Doug Hattaway, a Gore campaign spokesman, suggested that the Bechac family could get up to $2,525 in tax relief if it took full advantage of such Gore-plan benefits.
The two candidates have been battling over taxes for months. In June, Mr. Gore, campaigning in the battleground state of Ohio, tried to make his "prosperity tour" sound more prosperous by proposing to double his tax-cut plan to $500 billion over 10 years.
"The right kind of tax cuts are good for our economy," Mr. Gore said. "I won't be profligate with the people's money. I won't spend your money on a huge tax cut we can't afford."
NBC News reported that Mr. Gore's bigger, "targeted" tax cuts were the product of substantial voter surveys by Mr. Gore's pollsters seeking guidance on issues that can help boost his lagging campaign.
Mr. Bush replied: "They may test ads in front of focus groups, but I don't run a focus group to tell me what to say or whether to expand my tax-cut package. I don't need a poll or a focus group to tell me what to believe."
Mr. Gore has condemned Mr. Bush's tax-cut proposals, accusing his Republican presidential rival of proposing an economic agenda "built on a foundation of irresponsibility and risk."
The Bush campaign has fired back, 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."
Bush officials say there is 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 plan would lower all personal income-tax rates, with emphasis on people in the bottom 15 percent tax bracket, who would be taxed at a 10 percent rate. The plan would also double the $500-per-child family tax credit.
In a written defense of Mr. Bush's tax-cut plan earlier this year, 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.
"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.
Gore campaign officials have dismissed Mr. Bush's plan as a "tax cut for the rich." While wealthier taxpayers who pay most of the taxes anyway would get back more of their money, taxpayers in all brackets would pay less, unlike Mr. Gore's "targeted" tax plan.
The Republican nominee's plan would replace the existing five tax-rate brackets of 15, 28, 31, 36 and 39.6 percent with four brackets 10, 15, 25 and 33 percent.
Mr. Gore's plan would not reduce the brackets, but instead would, among other things:
Increase the standard deduction for two-earner married couples.
Allow up to $10,000 in college tuition costs to be tax-deductible.
Make the existing child-care tax credit refundable for families who have little or no tax liability.

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