- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2001

Vice President Richard B. Cheney says he's confident House and Senate negotiators will support a tax cut "very close" to the $1.6 trillion sought by President Bush, but the Senate's top Democrat predicts the final figure will be much closer to the $1.28 trillion approved by that chamber.
"I'm quite confident you can't go much higher than where we are right now and try to sustain any kind of a majority in the Senate … it won't be $1.6 trillion," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said on "Fox News Sunday."
The president's full 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut is maintained in his $1.96 trillion budget for fiscal 2002, which will be released in detail today. The Senate rejected Mr. Bush's tax-cut proposal Friday in favor of a $1.28 trillion alternative, which includes an additional $85 billion for an immediate economic stimulus this year.
"That [$1.6 trillion] is what the president thinks is the right amount to have as a tax cut, and that's what he is going to present to the Congress in his detailed budget," Chris Ullman, White House budget office spokesman, told Reuters yesterday.
On Fox, Mr. Daschle said, "In the final hours of debate on Friday, they [Republicans] attempted to see if we could get a $1.4 trillion tax cut, and they didn't have the votes for that."
In contrast to the Senate, the House passed a budget resolution containing the full $1.6 trillion tax cut Mr. Bush is seeking.
The Senate's budget resolution is also at odds with the White House in terms of spending growth. The Bush administration wants to limit the increase in discretionary spending authority to 4 percent. The Senate's budget resolution would raise it to 7 percent.
In talk-show appearances yesterday, Mr. Cheney warned that Mr. Bush will not hesitate to veto spending bills he finds "excessive."
"This president is eager to veto appropriations that come in over budget, meaning his budget," Mr. Cheney said on ABC's "This Week."
Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, suggested Mr. Bush will be asking for trouble with that approach. "You can't lock yourself in concrete and say, 'If you don't meet all of my terms all of the times, I'm going to veto everything that you send to me.' I mean, the art of governing is the art of negotiating and reaching a compromise that's acceptable," he said on ABC's "This Week."
While the White House has said it's hopeful of having most of Mr. Bush's proposed 10-year $1.6 trillion tax cut being restored in conference by House and Senate negotiators, Mr. Cheney seemed to be laying the groundwork for a lesser amount in some comments he made yesterday.
"We'll go to conference between the House and the Senate and probably end up some place close to splitting the difference between the two" proposals, he said on "This Week." Mr. Cheney said that he expects a tax cut "very close to what the president asked for" to be approved in conference.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Mr. Cheney said he anticipates approval of a tax cut "fairly close" to Mr. Bush's proposal. "I'm convinced it will be more than $1.2 trillion," he said.
On ABC, he contrasted Mr. Bush's continued demands for a sizable tax cut with the Democrats' inconsistency on the issue. "A year ago, the Democrats were opposed to any tax cut at all. Then Al Gore came out for $250 billion worth of tax cuts. Then, later on in the summer, it was $500 billion. That's where it was on Election Day.
"After the election, Tom Daschle came out for $800 billion in tax cuts. Later on, in January, it was $900 billion in tax cuts," Mr. Cheney said.
He added: "We'll go forward now to conference, and we'll get a very good number out of conference that will be somewhere between three and four times what was originally proposed by the Democrats."
Whatever is agreed to in conference is subject to floor votes in both chambers of Congress.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, said on ABC's "This Week" it "would be a mistake" if the conferees adopted the proposed $1.6 trillion tax-reduction plan approved by the House, since it "cannot pass" the Senate.
Mr. Biden predicted a huge uproar after people see the details of the president's budget today especially its inadequate spending proposals on key programs. The full budget, he said, "will put in sharp relief what this president is doing in order to be able to get this humongous tax cut."
On CNN's "Late Edition," Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, accused the administration of "taking $50 billion of the Medicare surplus to fund this tax cut."
Mr. Breaux, who came up with the $1.28 trillion alternative tax-cut plan approved by the Senate, said on ABC: "When people see the budget, they're going to say: 'Oh, my God. I wanted the tax cut. But I didn't know what you were going to do to health care and to Medicare and national defense.' And I think that's going to force a more manageable conference that comes up with a realistic number."
On CNN's "Late Edition," Sen. John W. Warner, Virginia Republican, said he disagrees with those who say military personnel will be hurt by the Bush budget. Asked if he expects Congress to approve a tax cut greater than that contained in the Senate budget resolution, Mr. Warner said only: "In my judgment, that figure will be increased somewhat."
Mr. Biden on ABC said: "Obviously, there's room to negotiate here. I would suggest to the president and the administration that they could say to the American people that they have brought a 1 trillion-dollar tax cut to the American people, for all Americans. That should be a victory by any standard."
"People back home are not arguing about whether it should be 1.3, 1.4, or 1.5 [trillion dollars]. I mean, the fact that we can have a tax cut is very significant and should be a victory for everyone," he said.

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