- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2000

SUNNYVALE, Calif. Vice President Al Gore told California millionaires a tax cut is "not good for you" as he collected $3.5 million from Silicon Valley tycoons and Hollywood stars at a fund-raiser late Tuesday.
In a shot at Texas Gov. George W. Bush's plan for an across-the-board tax cut, Mr. Gore vowed not to "squander the surplus on a very large tax cut, mainly for the wealthiest in our society."
After a slightly awkward pause, Mr. Gore said: "Well represented in this group, I might add."
The 320 wealthy donors, each of whom had given at least $10,000 and many of whom had given $35,000 or more, laughed good-naturedly.
"But you are public spirited enough to know that it's not good for you," the vice president added, drawing applause.
Mr. Gore said he would push for "middle-class tax cuts," although he and Bill Clinton made the same promise in 1992, then raised taxes after taking office. With the average price of unleaded gasoline at $2 in Northern California, the middle class is having growing difficulty paying for fuel.
Mr. Gore is expected to address the issue of rising gasoline and heating oil prices today and tomorrow.
"Clearly, we are in the midst of a home-heating oil crisis and a spike in gasoline prices, and we need to do something now," said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane. He said the vice president today would be "making some specific policy announcements that will help us deal with this crisis right here and right now."
When oil prices spiked earlier this year, Mr. Gore tried to shield himself from criticism by accusing "Big Oil" of gouging consumers.
Although the vice president owes his personal and, to some extent, his political fortunes to Occidental Petroleum, he has repeatedly lashed out at Mr. Bush and his running mate, Richard B. Cheney, as tools of big oil. The Gore campaign is renewing those attacks now that oil prices are spiking again.
Mr. Lehane said a Bush-Cheney administration "will transform the Oval Office into the Big Oil office." He promised the vice president would lay out a "stark difference" from the GOP when it comes to oil policy.
Among those contributing to Mr. Gore on Tuesday was actress Sharon Stone, who portrayed a bisexual, ice-pick-wielding serial killer in the film "Basic Instinct." Robin Williams, who often mocks pro-life advocates, made a five-figure contribution. Mr. Gore praised singer Elton John, a British citizen, who said: "I do not want this country to live under George W. Bush. It's back to the dark ages if you go with the other guy."
Mr. John, showing off a black brocade jacket, offered to dress Mr. Gore for his inauguration. "I think you're going to win it, baby," he said.
The fund-raiser was held in Silicon Valley at the wooded, hillside estate of Erick Schmidt, chairman of Novell Corp. Mr. Schmidt apologized for the late start of the evening's festivities and blamed it on "the vice president and Tipper kissing in the hall."
In Washington, a tax-research group questioned the manner in which Mr. Gore is using its numbers to attack Mr. Bush. The vice president says that average working Americans would save just 62 cents a day under his opponent's tax plan. But Bob McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, said the Democratic presidential candidate is not representing his organization's information correctly. "It's a stretch I wouldn't make," he said.
The claim was made most prominently in Mr. Gore's acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention, although he slipped and said 62 cents a week instead of a day. It was repeated again yesterday when his campaign issued a "real plans for rich people" analysis taking another poke at Mr. Bush's across-the-board tax cuts.
Mr. McIntyre's labor-financed group calculates that average taxpayers those in the middle 20 percent, with an annual income of $24,400 to $39,300 would save $453 a year from Mr. Bush's plan, seeing their federal income tax load drop by almost one-quarter.
That works out to about $1.24 a day, twice the savings cited by Mr. Gore.
"I think they're using the wrong line in the table," he said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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