- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Senate Republicans proposed an $89 billion tax-cut stimulus plan yesterday that Democratic leaders said had no chance of approval unless it contained more benefits for unemployed workers.
The Republicans' administration-backed economic recovery plan, to counter the fallout from the September 11 terrorist attacks, was presented to the Senate Republicans' weekly policy lunch by Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee.
Minority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, said the tax-cut package had the "overwhelming support" of Republicans and that several Democrats, including Sen. John B. Breaux of Louisiana, "are very close to what we are proposing."
Mr. Grassley said the plan, made up mostly of accelerated income-tax cuts for individuals and tax breaks for businesses, would give "a booster shot" to the economy, which government and business forecasters say has stopped growing and is tumbling into a recession.
At a news conference after the luncheon strategy meeting, the Republican leaders said they hoped that a bipartisan compromise could be worked out with the Democrats for the good of the country in wartime.
But any hope for bipartisanship ended when Majority Leader Tom Daschle condemned the Republican plan as a "mockery" and "too little and too late. There can be no economic stimulus until there is help for the unemployed and health benefits."
"We won't even consider it unless there are those two components in it," the South Dakota Democrat said at a news conference soon after Republican leaders released the details of their plan.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, said yesterday the Senate Republicans' economic stimulus plan "is going nowhere."
"They can promote it all they want," Mr. Conrad said. "This kind of proposal is not going to go through. We're not going to be a party to a giveaway for the wealthy. If they want to waste a lot of time, this is the way to go."
Republican leaders attacked the Democrats' stimulus proposal, saying it would do little or nothing to spur economic growth, investment and job creation.
"Senator Daschle's proposal does nothing to stimulate the economy. It doesn't do anything to make things better," said Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who chairs the Senate Republican Conference, the Republicans' policy communications arm.
"What we should be about is getting people back to work so we won't have do those things" to expand social welfare protections for the unemployed, Mr. Santorum said.
The Republican plan would make effective next year individual income-tax rate cuts set for 2004 and 2006. It also would repeal the corporate alternative minimum tax and provide faster tax write-offs for businesses. The cuts would total $75 billion over one year.
The plan also would give another $14 billion in cash to low- and middle-income Americans who did not get tax rebates earlier this year because they owed no income taxes.
A smaller $60 billion plan drafted by Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, the chairman of the Finance Committee, is largely devoted to lengthier unemployment benefits. But Senate Democratic officials said last week that the Baucus bill could not muster the support of a majority of his committee, leaving the prospects of any stimulus bill in limbo unless a compromise could be worked out.
Mr. Grassley said "only 10 percent of the people have used up their unemployment benefits, but we're willing to help those 10 percent." He said Democrats have ignored offers to do that.
Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

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