- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

The Bush administration said yesterday the president is still pushing for full enactment of his tax cut, shooting down suggestions they were ready to forgo some elements of his plan.
"We're going to continue to fight for as high a number as we can get through conference. The president has said $550 billion he wants at least that. And we're going to continue to fight for all elements of his plan," said Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans.
President Bush is due to fly to Ohio tomorrow for a campaign-style event to stump for his tax-cut package. Sen. George V. Voinovich, Ohio Republican, was one of two senators who forced Republican leaders to pledge to hold the line on tax cuts.
"The president looks forward to talking to the people of Ohio about why the economy needs to grow more than it is growing, and what the impact of a smaller tax cut would have on economic growth and job creation," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said yesterday.
The president last week endorsed the tax-cut number the House secured in the budget agreement, $550 billion over 10 years, rather than the $350 billion Senate Republican leaders pledged they will stick to. Those numbers represent the size of a tax cut that can pass the Senate by majority vote, rather than by the 60 votes usually called for on contentious issues.
Senate Republican leaders agreed to hold an eventual tax bill to $350 billion in order to win the votes of Mr. Voinovich and Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, on the budget.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Treasury Secretary John W. Snow in an interview opened the door for postponing part of the president's package that would speed up the tax-rate cut for the highest income bracket. That would help win the rest of the tax cuts by lowering the cost of the package.
But administration officials across the board yesterday said the president still backs his full package.
"Given how close Congress is, it is always a difficult process to find a majority and to put a majority together. But nevertheless, this president is determined to fight for it because he thinks that many people's jobs depend on it," Mr. Fleischer said.
Commerce and Treasury department officials have fanned out across the nation to help drive the message home, and Mr. Evans is conducting what could be seen as the "carrot" side of the administration's push for tax cuts, appearing with more-liberal Republicans who supported higher tax cuts as part of the budget.
As for the president's visit to Ohio, Mr. Voinovich initially said he had a scheduling conflict and wouldn't be able to appear with Mr. Bush. But yesterday Mr. Voinovich's spokesman, Scott Milburn, said they found out Air Force One is actually flying into Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, which is where Mr. Voinovich will be.
"We're trying to work it out," Mr. Milburn said, adding that Mr. Voinovich is happy with the president's visit.
"The senator thinks the president is doing the right thing to come to Ohio and talk about the economy. Ohio is a key state politically. It's a state in which the economic message resonates," Mr. Milburn said.
All told, 48 senators 47 Republicans and Sen. Zell Miller, Georgia Democrat, are seen as committed to going higher than $350 billion in tax cuts. And while attention has focused on Mrs. Snowe and Mr. Voinovich, several administration officials and congressional aides said they don't have to be the 49th and 50th senators.
If Republicans can get a majority without them, Mr. Voinovich's and Mrs. Snowe's agreement wouldn't matter, congressional sources said. One administration official said there are "10-ish" potential senators on the target list.

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