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On Filing Day, President Lauds His Tax Cut Plan

April 17, 2001|JAMES GERSTENZANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — President Bush used a tax-filing day speech Monday to tout his own tax cut proposal, reminding Americans why they don't like turning their hard-earned money over to Uncle Sam.

Finding a friendly audience at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the president ticked off the ways in which taxes have risen. And throughout, he offered this mantra: "Enough is enough."

The Internal Revenue Service, Bush said, knows how much Americans earn, whether they have moved in the last year and the size of their mortgage payments. But "there's a lot our citizens may not know about our tax system," the president added.

For instance, in 2001, he said, "the federal government will take a bigger share of the U.S. economy in taxes than in any year since 1944," when the United States was fighting World War II. Bush said that means the government will take more as a percentage of the economy than it did during the years of the Vietnam War, the Korean War and all but one year during World War II.

"Our country is at peace, but our government is charging wartime prices," Bush said. "Enough is enough."

For two months, Bush has been traveling the country, often stopping in the smaller states where he found support during the presidential campaign--and where he hopes voters can pressure their senators into supporting his plan, which would cost $1.6 trillion over 10 years. The Senate earlier this month approved a $1.2-trillion cut.

Members of Congress have complained that Bush's budget--which would hold discretionary spending on government programs to a 4% growth rate instead of the 8% supported by the Senate--shortchanges programs they favor. To those lawmakers, Bush said Monday that the income taxes collected by the federal government this year will yield $2 billion in revenue for each and every one of the 535 members of Congress.

"I think they should be able to get by on that," he said, adding amid welling laughter: "Even the senators."

The 8% increase sought by the Senate, Bush said, would double the federal budget by 2010.

"If you send it, they will spend it," he added.

"What we want is a stronger economy, not larger federal government."

Recognizing that many Americans--married couples and single folks alike--had spent this last weekend at their kitchen tables filling out IRS forms, Bush offered one bright note:

"You have to say this for the income tax: It tends to bring families together."

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