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House conservatives up ante on Bush tax plan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Conservative House Republicans said Wednesday they are "upping the ante" on the president's tax plan as they introduced a package that raises Bush's $1.6 trillion tax package to $2.2 trillion over 10 years.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey.  

The bill, which won endorsement by Majority Leader Dick Armey and Rep. Tom DeLay, both Texas Republicans, and an influential group of 65 of the most conservative members of the House, is based on Bush's tax package but accelerates the relief in some areas and adds other categories not in the president's plans.

"American taxpayers deserve a bigger, faster, pro-growth tax cut," said the bill's author, Rep. Pat. Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. "This legislation accelerates and expands the president's proposal in repealing such onerous taxes as the marriage penalty tax and the death tax, which hurts small businesses and farmers. In addition, my legislation would repeal the phone tax and the 1993 Clinton tax hike on Social Security benefits."

The bill also would increase tax-free contributions to retirement funds, increase the child tax credit, and increase the business meals deduction to 80 percent, among other items, according to Toomey.

Many House Republicans, led by Armey, have pushed for a larger tax cut than Bush's, arguing it is both affordable under the growing budget surplus projections, and needed because of a slowing economy.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., has said he wants the overall tax package to remain at $1.6 trillion. However, he has not discouraged the conservatives because he recognizes their push for more could persuade Democrats to negotiate a final figure closer to his $1.6 trillion goal, his press secretary, John Feehrey, told CNN.

Conservatives point to markets, call for more tax cuts (March 13, 2001)
Republicans suggest 'midcourse adjustment' on taxes (March 11, 2001)

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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