- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Given an evenly split Senate and a narrowly divided House, the compromise President Bush negotiated in good faith with Louisiana Democratic Sen. John Breaux and a dozen or so other moderate Democratic senators required give-and-take by both sides. The budget resolution initially passed by the House provided for the full 10-year (2002-2011), $1.64 trillion in tax relief that the president proposed. The 4.1 percent increase in discretionary spending for fiscal year 2002 passed by the House also conformed to the presidents plan. The Senates budget resolution chopped $448 billion off Mr. Bushs 10-year tax-cut proposal, reducing tax relief to $1.19 trillion from 2002 through 2011. But the Senate added an $85 billion tax cut as a much-needed fiscal stimulus for the current 2001 fiscal year. On the spending side of the ledger, the Senates resolution called for a staggering 8.4 percent rise in discretionary spending, a one-year increase of more than $50 billion on government programs ranging from Head Start to national defense that require annual appropriations. Discretionary spending had already increased by nearly 9 percent (more than $50 billion) in 2001, or nearly three times faster than inflation.
In negotiating a compromise between the House and Senate budget resolutions, the president dearly wanted to split the difference on tax relief, offering a fair proposal that would put the 10-year tax cut at $1.4 trillion. But Mr. Breaux and his moderate colleagues would go no higher than $1.25 trillion. The negotiators agreed to provide $100 billion in fiscal stimulus during the 2001 and 2002 fiscal years, and an 11-year, $1.35 trillion tax-relief deal was struck. Regarding spending, the compromise called for a 5 percent increase in 2002, well above projected inflation.
Subsequent to the compromise, two minor glitches developed. While declaring that it was the intent of the Congress to provide a $100 billion fiscal stimulus in the form of tax relief during 2001 and 2002, the conference report detailing the compromise also indicated that the $100 billion could be distributed over 11 years. Mr. Breaux is demanding that the $100 billion be used before the end of 2002. Considering that the major drawback of the 10-year plan is the fact that the tax cut is phased in too slowly, Mr. Bush and his Republican colleagues should only be too happy to accede to Mr. Breauxs demand. The other glitch involves a turf dispute between two House committee chairmen over the jurisdiction of $5 billion in emergency reserve funds requested by Mr. Bush and approved in the negotiations.
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt have seized upon these minor glitches. Feverishly working over the weekend, they tried to sabotage the bipartisan compromise negotiated in good faith between the Republican president and more than a dozen Democratic moderate senators. It was a fair deal when it was negotiated, and it remains a fair deal today. Members of Congress bemoaning the absence of bipartisanship in recent years have an opportunity this week to reverse that trend. They should seize it.

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