- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

President Bush said yesterday that Democrats who propose to revoke his tax cuts would endanger the nation’s economic recovery.

In a speech at CraneWorks, a small business in Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Bush laid out some options with the presidential election a year away.

“Our country’s approaching a choice now. Just as our economy is gaining some momentum, some in our nation’s capital, some in Washington, are saying now is the right time to raise taxes. To be fair, they think anytime’s a good time to raise taxes,” said Mr. Bush, drawing laughter from the crowd.

“They’re consistent. So am I. I strongly disagree. Raising taxes now will wreck economic recovery and will punish hard-working Americans and endanger thousands of jobs.”

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark, a retired Army general, last month proposed restoring $2.35 trillion in taxes over 10 years by repealing or altering scheduled tax cuts. Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and John Kerry of Massachusetts have taken similar positions in their presidential campaigns.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri want to repeal all of the Bush tax cuts. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, running far lower in the Democratic polls, has proposed raising the top income-tax rate for married couples to 39.6 percent, from 33 percent, for those with annual income of more than $150,000. He also advocates a rollback of the dividend tax cut.

All nine Democratic presidential candidates blame the Bush tax cuts for a record federal budget deficit and a heavy loss of jobs.

Mr. Bush in May signed into law a $330 billion tax-cut package, the third largest in history. “Sunset” provisions would phase out in a few years some of the major reductions, including in stock dividend and capital-gains taxes.

Congress “ought to make sure that tax relief is permanent,” Mr. Bush told the 300 workers at CraneWorks.

“It’s hard for me to explain the rules in Washington. Let me put it to you this way: The Congress giveth, and the Congress taketh away — not because of these members, by the way. But much of the tax relief we passed is scheduled to go away, and that’s a problem if you’re a small-business owner,” he said.

The president also rejected the notion of repealing tax cuts for wealthier Americans, as proposed by several Democratic candidates.

“We wanted tax relief to be as broad and as fair as possible. So we reduced taxes on everybody who pays taxes,” Mr. Bush said.

Taking credit for a 7.2 percent annual rate increase in the nation’s gross domestic product for the third quarter — the highest in more than 20 years — Mr. Bush said his administration has a consistent and effective strategy.

“Inflation is down, and that’s good. After-tax incomes are up. People are keeping more of their own money, and that’s really important for economic growth.”


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