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TARGETING BUSH TAX CUT, DEMOCRATIC LEADERS SET 2002 AGENDA

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"Supporters of the tax cut said the surplus was so massive and so certain that we could have a huge tax cut, increase spending on education and the military, and provide prescription drug coverage. We could protect the Social Security surplus, pay off the entire federal debt in a decade, and still have enough money left over to get us through any unforeseen disasters. What we got instead was the most dramatic fiscal deterioration in our nation's history."

In a speech January 4, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) praised President Bush’s performance in the war against terrorism, but criticized both last year’s tax cut and the Republican plans for economic stimulus. He concentrated on the several domestic issues such as education, issues which he says should be higher priorities than the tax cut.

Daschle said the Republican choice of ideology over fiscal responsibility has left us in a fiscal bind during a time of war and cost us money that could be better spent elsewhere:

“Supporters of the tax cut said the surplus was so massive and so certain that we could have a huge tax cut, increase spending on education and the military, and provide prescription drug coverage. We could protect the Social Security surplus, pay off the entire federal debt in a decade, and still have enough money left over to get us through any unforeseen disasters. What we got instead was the most dramatic fiscal deterioration in our nation’s history.”

 

He called for continued support of the recently passed “No Child Left Behind Act” and the need to build on those initial bipartisan efforts. Daschle wants to create tax credits for businesses, hospitals, libraries and schools to make Internet access as “universal tomorrow as telephone access is today.” Providing that access will improve the education system and allow students to attend college and trade school prepared to work.While Daschle came short of calling for a repeal of the tax cut, Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) remarks on January 16 were more direct. He called for a postponement of $350 billion in scheduled tax cuts, saying the U.S. cannot now afford a $1.35 trillion tax cut whose benefits will not kick in until after we need them.

Supporting Daschle’s proposal for the short-run economic recovery plan, Kennedy said we need to address the “urgent needs of our people in areas like education, health care and equal rights” and made a plea for continuing improvement in education:

“One essential priority is to continue our intense focus on education. For too long, public education has been highly unequal from kindergarten through 12th grade. The new school reform law can go a long way to close the gap – but only if we stay the course, and provide the increased resources and guidance essential for schools and students to meet and fulfill the high potential of this far-reaching and genuinely bipartisan achievement.

I was proud to stand with President Bush as he signed that reform into law. But this is no time for any of us to rest on any laurels. We have only just begun to renew our education system. We have much more to do to realize the ideal of ‘no child left behind.'”

 

Kennedy proposed to hold $350 billion in future tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and cited the need to be fiscally responsible in the “spirit of this new time” saying “the doubts of …the affordability of those tax cuts have become certainties in the wake of September 11th,” when we have urgent needs both home and abroad.

The Bush Administration maintains that canceling a scheduled tax cut is equivalent to a tax increase. Shortly after Kennedy spoke, President Bush remarked, “I think raising taxes in the midst of a recession is wrong economic policy — it would be a huge mistake. I’m confident that the American people agree with me as well.”

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No Child Left Behind

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