- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2001

The White House has set up a war room operation with congressional Republicans to promote President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut this week, as Democrats hold out for smaller cuts.
Presidential assistant Dan Bartlett and White House deputy communications director Jim Wilkinson held a conference call yesterday with about 150 press secretaries for congressional Republicans to emphasize "talking points" of the president's tax-cut plan, to be introduced Thursday.
Among the selling points Republicans will stress at the Capitol this week:
The president's proposal is fair and responsible and would give the typical family $1,600 more of its money.
Low- and middle-income families are the biggest winners on a percentage basis: A family of four making $35,000 would get a 100 percent tax cut, and a family of four making $50,000 a year would receive about a 50 percent tax cut.
The tax cuts are needed because the current code is unfair to lower-wage earners and because the economy needs a boost.
The White House is holding such conference calls daily with Republican congressional aides to coordinate strategy for the president's package.
"The president's tax plan will get the tax surplus out of Washington and back into the pockets of working men and women," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican. "The Republican Congress is united behind it."
A House Republican leadership aide said the party will try to pass Mr. Bush's tax-rate cuts first, followed by action on the estate tax and the "marriage penalty."
He said Republicans learned last year that it was easier to pass tax cuts in smaller chunks than as one large package.
"[Democrats] love to talk about the big number," the aide said. "If we take it piece by piece, we're much better able to communicate it to the American people. The Democrats are going to run around saying, 'The sky is falling.' We're going to lay it out there so the people can see."
Top congressional Democrats yesterday continued to make the case for smaller tax cuts, despite growing surplus projections and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's endorsement of a tax cut.
"This tax cut is simply too big," said Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Mr. Conrad said the president's plan "runs the risk of putting us back into the deficit ditch that we've just climbed out of."
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who favors tax cuts totaling about $740 billion, said the scope of Mr. Bush's plan is reminiscent of President Reagan's tax cut in 1981.
He said that tax cut led "to a $4 trillion public debt that we're still saddled with today."
"Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past," Mr. Daschle said. "If we do, shame on all of us."
House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri said Mr. Bush had told Democrats at their retreat in Pennsylvania on Sunday that he would send his budget to Congress before submitting his tax-cut plan.
"America should not spend all of its national resources on a massive tax giveaway for the wealthiest Americans, which is precisely what President Bush's plan does," Mr. Gephardt said.
John Feehery, spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois, said Mr. Gephardt consistently voted against tax cuts last year.
"Democrats don't want to cut taxes that's the big story," Mr. Feehery said. "They're trying to come up with an explanation, and they're having a hard time."
A group of House conservatives led by Rep. Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, plans to introduce a tax-cut package tomorrow that would accelerate and expand Mr. Bush's proposals.
Meanwhile, sources said yesterday that Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, will team up with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, to announce a "patients' bill of rights" health care plan later this week. Mr. McCain, defeated by Mr. Bush in the Republican presidential primary, introduced a campaign finance regulation bill last month that Mr. Bush opposes in its current form.
Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.

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