- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

The New York Times

President Bush did such a good job yesterday talking about the enduring strength of the economy that many Americans might wonder why the nation needs a costly new stimulus plan that imperils its fiscal health. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush wasn't convinced by his own reassurances, and went on to propose a whopping new package of tax cuts. This plan is much less about the economy than about the White House's belief that it needs to take action, any action, to show that the president cares. …

With the economy showing signs of recovery, we remain unpersuaded of the need for a pricey stimulus package. Yet if Mr. Bush is truly concerned about the people who "spend their entire adult lives living paycheck to paycheck," he should be pushing a more targeted plan along the lines proposed Monday by Congressional Democrats. At less than one-fourth the $674 billion cost of the president's extravagant designs, their plan provides short-term relief to states and working-class Americans, thereby doing more to insure against an economic slowdown.

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Chicago Tribune

The battle over taxes is now joined. President Bush unveiled his bold, and expensive, tax cut and economic benefits plan Tuesday, estimated to cost $674 billion over the next 10 years. The Democrats have countered with a more modest, one-time $136 billion shot in the arm for the economy. The Democrats have posited that the Bush plan aims too much of its benefits at the wealthy. …

The White House and Congress have to be realistic. The federal government has already fallen back into deficits — justified, perhaps in the short run, by the unexpected costs of homeland defense. They can't, however, assume they will see a return to the kind of robust and sustained growth enjoyed in the 1990s. If they approve a deep reduction in federal revenues through ambitious tax cuts, they also have to put strict, long-term curbs on federal spending. Anything else will return the nation to a long pattern of growing deficits, and that will be reckless.

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Los Angeles Times

America may be about to get the debate it needs on how to get the economy moving. By going for broke — as in flat broke — President Bush seems to have awakened sensible critics from a long national snooze. The unexpectedly lavish $674-billion "growth and jobs" stimulus plan he announced Tuesday in Chicago, like the $1.35-trillion tax cut Congress passed in 2001, is focused on helping the wealthy. But the first tax cut package hasn't revived the economy — and neither would Bush's latest proposals, at least not with any speed.

House Democrats, finally understanding that they have to do more than complain about Bush, countered with a $136-billion, 10-year proposal that would do more of what a stimulus package is supposed to, yet cost far less. …

Consistent with his previous approach toward Congress, Bush has entered the budget battle with maximal demands. Unlike two years ago, congressional moderates at least seem to be showing some spine.

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Washington Times

In unveiling his 10-year, $670 billion short-term economic-stimulus and long-term economic-growth package yesterday, President Bush served notice to the burgeoning corps of Democratic presidential aspirants. To wit: This Bush White House is determined to buttress the evolving growth from the faltering economy it inherited. If that means engaging the Democrats in hand-to-hand combat in class warfare, then so be it. …

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Washington Post

"Bold" and "audacious": Those were the reactions yesterday when President Bush proposed tax cuts costing nearly $700 billion over 10 years, instead of the previously rumored mere $300 billion. But if $700 billion is bolder than $300 billion, why stop there? Why not cut $1.7 trillion, or $2.7 trillion? Mr. Bush wants to abolish the inheritance tax, which is paid only by the wealthiest estates, and now the tax on stock dividend income, which is also mostly paid by America's rich. But so far he has proposed only a reduction in income tax rates. Why not abolish that one too? Wouldn't that be bold? Wouldn't it be the conservative and — speaking now as beleaguered taxpayers — the compassionate thing to do?

In today's climate, it may be prudent at this point to note that we are not serious: We don't favor abolition of all federal taxes. We hold to the old-fashioned opinion that the government ought to provide certain services, and that to do so it must raise a certain amount of revenue. The federal tax burden today is not inordinately high by historical standards, while the demands on the government are large and growing. Mr. Bush himself has not been shy to spend: on defense, for example, and on farm subsidies. Yet the president and most of his fellow Republican officeholders continue to behave as though balancing the books just isn't part of their job description.

The economic plan that the president proposed yesterday is in keeping with this irresponsible philosophy. …

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Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Members of the 108th Congress have enough business left unattended by members of the 107th to fill all their working days between now and the start of the 109th. But they also must make time for what President Bush has made the centerpiece of his economic agenda for 2003-'04. That doesn't mean they should accept everything the president proposed on Tuesday — far from it. But there are a few elements in the new tax-cut package that make sense and others that offer the makings of a compromise across party lines. …

The problem with the economy right now is a shortage of demand and an excess of supply. To redress the balance, consumers must spend enough to persuade businesses with too much inventory and many idle factories to invest in rehired or newly hired workers, new plants and new capital equipment. Triggering that demand should be the focus of the upcoming congressional debate — one that also recognizes the dangers of long-term federal deficits.

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(Compiled by United Press International)

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