- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 26, 2001

President Bush yesterday conceded that he will not get his 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut even as he courted conservative Democrats in hopes of getting at least a $1.4 trillion tax cut, spread out over 11 years.
"Im a practical man," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush said the tax cut must exceed $1.2 trillion — the number approved by the Senate in its defeat of his overall plan — and he declared himself open to compromise on the details.
"I want everything done the way I say it, but it turns out thats not what generally happens in a democracy," Mr. Bush told the Associated Press.
White House economic advisers said yesterday that the tax cuts proposed by Mr. Bush cannot be cut to $1.2 trillion. But Mr. Bushs plan can be made to fit into a $1.4 trillion package by "lengthening the phase-in period for repeal of the death tax," a presidential adviser told The Washington Times.
Mr. Bush yesterday met with a half-dozen Democratic senators in hopes of persuading them to come up to the $1.4 trillion figure.
But those senators all said they remained committed to the budget passed by the Senate, which allows $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years for tax cuts, but some would not rule out voting for a higher tax-cut plan.
"I think that the message in all of these meetings was that were going to stick together," said Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat and leader a group of conservative Democrats and two liberal Republicans who think Mr. Bushs tax cuts are too big.
"You have to have this group in order to pass it in the Senate," Mr. Breaux added.
Mr. Breaux dined with Mr. Bush on Tuesday night to talk about the budget.
Mr. Breaux said he urged the the president to "reach across party lines to win wide congressional support for a tax cut."
Karl Rove, the presidents senior political strategist, said Mr. Breaux had "expressed a willingness to work with the president" to reach a compromise on the Bush tax-cut plan.
Other Democrats were setting conditions under which they might be willing to cut taxes by more than $1.2 trillion.
"Its a question of seeing whats going to happen on agriculture, on education funding, and national defense," said Sen. Ben Nelson, Nebraska Democrat, after his meeting with Mr. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney yesterday morning. "I want to see whats going to happen there before I talk about the tax cut."
Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, also met with the president for about 20 minutes yesterday morning.
"At this point, Senator Baucus wants to maintain the integrity of the bill as passed by the Senate," said Mike Siegel, spokesman for Mr. Baucus, adding that the meeting was nonetheless productive.
Sen. Robert G. Torricelli, New Jersey Democrat, told the president he also wants to stick to the $1.2 trillion size. But he also talked about ways to assure that middle-class New Jersey families would benefit from a tax cut. With his constituents facing high taxes and a high cost of living, Mr. Torricelli is hoping to see the lowest tax brackets expanded and a cut in the capital gains tax rate, a spokeswoman from his office said.
Mr. Bush also met with Sens. Max Cleland of Georgia and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
Donald Lambro contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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