- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 16, 2001

President Bush charged yesterday that Senate Democratic leaders will cost the economy 300,000 new jobs if they fail to pass economic stimulus legislation that includes the business investment incentives he has proposed.
"More than two months and more than 700,000 lost jobs ago, I proposed an economic security package to help workers who have been laid off and to take action to create jobs and promote long-term economic growth," the president said in his weekly radio address.
"The Senate has failed to act and more and more Americans have been thrown out of work," Mr. Bush said."The holidays are upon us, and time is running out."
The president cited a report, released yesterday by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, that estimates a bipartisan stimulus plan that he supports can save 300,000 jobs that would be lost if no action is taken.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who last week was described as an "obstructionist" to economic recovery by Vice President Dick Cheney, voiced his concerns about the Bush plan.
"Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas about how to help the economy. We believe that any plan to help the economy must start by helping laid-off workers," said the South Dakota Democrat.
"But our Republican friends think the way to help the economy is to give billions of dollars in new tax cuts for wealthy individuals and profitable corporations in the hope that money will trickle down to working families."
Negotiations between congressional Republicans and Democrats resumed yesterday in an effort to find a compromise.
But Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat and chairman of the Finance Committee, who met behind closed doors with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, California Republican, said sharp differences remain.
"This is really hard because the lines are drawn so deeply by both sides," he said.
Negotiators said deep differences remained on Republican demands to rescind the corporate alternative minimum tax and accelerate individual rate cuts that were part of the 10-year, $1.35 trillion Bush tax cut enacted earlier this year and on Democratic demands to expand benefits for the unemployed and help laid-off workers pay for health insurance.
Mr. Bush has given up on seeking to repeal the corporative alternative minimum tax, a 15-year-old provision that requires that companies with large deductions and other write-offs to pay some federal income tax. But House Republicans say elimination of the tax is essential, so that companies can take advantage of other tax breaks.
Yesterday, Mr. Baucus put a new offer on the table that would retain the minimum tax, but would allow firms several incentives and tax credits not now permitted.
Many Democrats oppose accelerating any of the tax cuts in the Bush tax-relief package, saying it has already undermined the economy and made less money available to fight terrorism. Mr. Daschle last week offered an immediate reduction to 26 percent. Republicans said that was not enough.
White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, interviewed yesterday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields," criticized Senate inaction.
"We are concerned that the House has taken action on so many important pieces of legislation this year, and yet the Senate has not: the stimulus package, number 1," said Mr. Card. He said the number of people who have lost their jobs since Mr. Bush called for an economic plan is actually closer to 800,000 than 700,000.
"The president would like to see this economy stimulated; now the Senate has got to act," the president's top adviser said.
Mr. Daschle, in his radio remarks, said, "Democrats are more than willing to compromise on every detail, as long as the final plan provides real help to families who need it."
He said the Democratic plan would add 13 extra weeks of unemployment benefits to the 26 now provided and would benefit all workers, including part timers and recent hires.
"Our plan also includes a modest $23-a-week increase to a parent who's out of work and counting pennies, that's a big help," he said.
Despite the gulf that now exists between the Republican and Democratic proposals, Mr. Daschle said, "I am confident we can bridge our differences just as we have on so many other important issues since September 11.
"We're fighting and winning a war against terrorism. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to fighting and beating this recession," he said.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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