- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

KENNESAW, Ga. Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, a Democrat instrumental in drumming up support in 2001 for President Bush's $1.1 trillion tax-cut plan, yesterday endorsed the president's new $674 billion tax-relief package.
Mr. Miller, who has irked Democratic colleagues with his steadfast support of tax cuts, said the federal government wouldn't have to keep cutting taxes if it would "not take money from the hard-earned taxpayer in the first place."
"Every new day that I watch our president in action, my respect grows and my support gets stronger," said the first-term senator, who is not seeking re-election 2004.
Mr. Bush, not surprisingly, agreed with the outspoken Georgian.
"I agree with Zell with this economic theory that when a person has more money in his pocket, they're likely to demand that somebody produce them a good or a service," the president said to several hundred supporters gathered in the gymnasium at Carl Harrison High School in this upscale suburb of Atlanta.
Mr. Bush twice getting so emotional he had tears in his eyes said if lawmakers fail to pass his tax-cut plan, the economy will grow more slowly than expected.
"If Congress doesn't act there is a risk we won't have economic vitality."
Democrats including one running for president in 2004 stepped up their attacks on the president's plan, which faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
"The support of one Senate Democrat does not negate the criticism of [Federal Reserve] Chairman Alan Greenspan, the condemnation of 10 Nobel laureates, the unenthusiastic response of dozens of elected Republicans, and the unfairness to the majority of Americans," Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle said.
"This plan is still the wrong plan for the country and it is still dead on arrival," the South Dakota Democrat said.
Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, the former House minority leader who announced his presidential bid on Wednesday, blasted the plan.
"We have to scrap the vast majority of the Bush cuts for wealthier Americans and corporations, and I'll tell you why: They're unaffordable, they're unsustainable and they're patently unfair," said the Missouri Democrat.
Mr. Bush's plan would accelerate personal tax cuts approved in 2001 but not scheduled to take effect for several years, eliminate dividend taxes and create "re-employment accounts" to help the jobless. Supporters jumped to their feet in applause when he called for the end of double taxation of dividends.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters aboard Air Force One that a new private-sector "blue-chip" economic forecast projecting the economy would grow in the fourth quarter of this year by 3.3 percent is "predicated" on the president's tax-cut plan.
Democrats point to more than 400 economists, including 10 Nobel laureates, who said last week that the tax-cut plan would not immediately help the economy.
But the White House also faces opposition from Republicans.
Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine has questioned the timing of the tax cut; Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island said early this month he "can't see giving away" tax revenue; and Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, suggested last month that other plans may be preferable.
Mr. Bush went to his Crawford, Texas, ranch after the Georgia speech, where he will dine tonight with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a staunch ally. Tomorrow morning, he and Mr. Aznar will meet for an hour before answering questions from reporters.
James G. Lakely contributed to this report.

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