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An Unlikely Face to Bush's Tax Cut Ad

Mention of JFK is 'irresponsible,' kin say in letter demanding that a TV spot be pulled.

May 09, 2003|Janet Hook | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — John F. Kennedy would be appalled at the company his name is keeping, his relatives have concluded.

The former president is mentioned and pictured in a television ad backing President Bush's efforts to persuade Congress to enact a large tax cut.

"President Kennedy cut income taxes and the economy soared," notes the ad, paid for by the Club for Growth, a tax cut advocacy group.

But Kennedy's brother and daughter -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Caroline Kennedy -- are demanding the ad be pulled from the air.

"To equate President Bush's tax proposals with President Kennedy's tax plan is politically irresponsible and grossly inaccurate, and such assertions have no place in honest political discourse," they said in a letter to Steve Moore, president of the Club for Growth.

The spot has been broadcast in the home states of Sens. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). Their opposition to key elements of Bush's plan has stymied it in the narrowly divided Senate.

The letter from the Kennedys argued that the income tax cut passed during the Kennedy administration was much more targeted to lower- and middle-income families than Bush's proposal.

And while Bush is seeking to eliminate the tax on dividend income, President Kennedy was opposed to exempting even part of that levy.

Moore said his group stood by the comparison and would not yank the ad, saying the point is not that Kennedy backed the specifics of Bush's plan, but that he understood the importance of tax cuts to economic growth

"Kennedy said if we can cut taxes, we can grow the economy faster," Moore said. "It worked. That's what Bush is saying now."

Moore added: "The Kennedy name and image are in the public domain, so the Kennedy family doesn't own that."

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