- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2003

The White House will soon begin a major promotional and educational campaign to let taxpayers know how much they will benefit from President Bush’s tax cuts, top administration officials said.

The public relations plan is intended to explain to various taxpayer groups — married couples, families with children, professional women, small businesses and other voter groups — what they can expect from the tax cuts. It is also intended to send out an economic-growth message to the business community and the country at large — that tax relief is on its way to spur jobs, savings, investment and consumer spending, senior officials told The Washington Times.

“There will be an aggressive outreach effort to highlight what’s in the tax-cut package and to show the American people the immediate benefits they will soon realize,” said an administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It will be a major public relations campaign.”

“You’ll see a concerted effort from the White House, Treasury and Commerce to promote this victory and talk about how it helps the American taxpayer. We’ll be underscoring and emphasizing small-business men and women, families, children, how it will help spur the stock markets,” said another administration official working on the plan.

“We’ll be talking about elements in the legislation, the tax-rate reductions that go into effect now, how this will help nearly 100 million taxpayers, how it will help spur the stock market, that it’s not for the rich, it’s for people who pay taxes,” the official said.

The outreach effort is also intended to counter “myths and distortions” about the tax cuts by Democratic political leaders and some members in the news media, the official said.

A key part of the promotional campaign will be aimed at the nation’s retail sector, which has been hurt by continued weakness in consumer spending. “We’ll be working with retailers to monitor the level of economic activity,” the official said.

The new, lower income-tax rates, which are in effect now, will begin to show up this month in worker paychecks as a result of reduced withholding. The lower withholding rates were put on the Internal Revenue Services’ Web site last week and could be downloaded by employers, but Treasury officials said the IRS will also begin mailing out the new tax-rate tables in mid-June.

In addition, an estimated 25 million checks will go out in July and August to families eligible to receive the higher child tax credit, which will rise to $1,000 per child.

The administration’s promotion plan comes at a time when the Democrats are stepping up their attacks on Mr. Bush’s tax cuts, charging that they will worsen the deficit, benefit the rich and not turn the economy around.

“Since Bush has been president, our nation has lost 2.7 million jobs,” Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri said Friday. “Instead of creating new jobs and growing the economy, President Bush has continued down the senseless road of cutting more taxes for the wealthiest Americans.”

Yesterday Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts criticized the administration’s economic policies. The Democratic presidential contender vowed to “get Americans back to work,” adding that “as president, it will be my goal to restore the 2.7 million jobs lost during the Bush administration within my first 500 days in the White House.”

“This summer, I’ll be traveling the country and holding a series of open meetings on the economy, focused on how to restore our prosperity and create new jobs,” Mr. Kerry said in remarks prepared for delivery yesterday to a forum on rural issues in upstate New York, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Kerry promised that in the fall he would provide details of how he plans to accomplish his goal. But he said he knows the nation needs more job training, new budget and tax policies, and re-energized small businesses, which “are America’s economic engine.”

In addition to Mr. Kerry, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Ohio Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich and New York activist Al Sharpton were to make separate appearances at the forum for presidential candidates being held by the state Democratic Rural Conference.

Meanwhile, many conservatives praised the tax cuts and said the $350 billion package is much larger than news reports have suggested.

“Some conservatives have been grousing that the tax cuts are too small and only half of what the president requested, and I think they are looking at it too myopically,” said Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, a national tax-cut advocacy group.

“The truth is the size of the tax cuts is much bigger than it looks because it’s all front-loaded. All the tax cuts take place immediately,” Mr. Moore said.

Forced by the Senate to cut Mr. Bush’s original $726 billion tax cut package in half, Republicans and the administration were able, in part, to reduce the plan’s costs by shrinking the length of time the tax cuts remain in effect before they are due to expire, in 2005, and years later.

“The gamble, which is a good gamble, is that these tax cuts will be expanded and eventually made permanent,” Mr. Moore said.

“The tactical victory here was to get the tax rates all down, and our challenge to the liberals will be to dare to raise them back up again. For example, in 2008 we can go to the Democrats and say, ‘Do you people really want to raise the dividend tax from 15 percent to 35 percent. Are you nuts or something?’” he said.


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