Kennedy to call for delaying tax cut
By Kelly Wallace
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy plans to call for a delay in implementing last year's $1.35 trillion dollar tax cut, a move which would save $350 billion to fund other priorities, a senior Capitol Hill Democratic aide said Saturday.
"There are urgently needed priorities that need to be funded and this is how Sen. Kennedy is going to propose that we do so," said the aide, who requested anonymity. Savings would be used to provide prescription drug coverage to seniors and fund education and other health care priorities, the aide said.
Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, would become the highest-ranking Democrat so far to back a delay in putting in effect future phases of last year's tax cut. The aide said Kennedy will call for the delay in a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota, has criticized the tax cut as wiping out most of the federal budget surplus and as "probably" making the recession worse, but has stopped short of calling for a repeal or a delay in the tax cut.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, has said that everything should be on the table, including consideration of a delay in the tax cut. Like Daschle, he's not fully endorsed such a move.
Last week, President Bush vowed to fight any proposal to delay implementing the tax cut, which he pushed through Congress last year. Such a move, he said, would be tantamount to a tax raise, and added: "Not over my dead body will they raise your taxes."
When asked Saturday about Kennedy's plans, a White House spokesman repeated Bush's argument that a delay or repeal in the tax cut amounts to a tax increase.
"Anytime we have a nation in recession, we have American workers hurting, the last thing we should think about is a tax increase," Dan Bartlett, White House communications director, said on CNN's "Saturday Edition." "That's exactly what it sounds like, if you're reporting correctly about what Sen. Kennedy's proposing. It sounds like a debate within the Democratic Party right now."
Kennedy's push comes just days after he traveled to Ohio, New Hampshire and Massachusetts with Bush to tout the new education reform bill, a measure the senator played a key role in crafting.
A Democratic congressional aide said Kennedy has worked with the administration on education, and will work with the president on other issues. But, the aide noted, the senator also has stated his willingness to oppose the president when he feels that is necessary.
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