Tax cuts likely to be an issue in 2000 elections
By Beth Fouhy/CNN
July 28, 1999
Web posted at: 6:07 p.m. EDT (2207 GMT)
WASHINGTON (July 28) -- Both Democrats and Republicans are looking at the current tax cut debate to strengthen their positions for the 2000 elections.
Gov. George W. Bush
Republican front-runner George W. Bush -- not known for offering many detailed positions of his own -- was quick to endorse the House package passed last week that would slash taxes by $792 billion over 10 years.
"I would ... because it's important to cut tax rates to keep the economy growing," he said.
Republicans who came of age under Ronald Reagan have long made tax cuts a centerpiece of their political agenda. But Democrats are counting on the tax issue to boomerang on the GOP in 2000 by painting Republicans as out of touch with voter priorities.
"Early indications are that voters aren't up in arms demanding big tax cuts," said CNN political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.
Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic front-runner, favors targeted tax cuts and using the majority of the projected budget surplus to shore up Medicare and Social Security.
Vice President Al Gore
"Once again, in the Republican Party, the right hand doesn't know what the far right hand is doing," Gore said.
Deep in the heart of Bush's home state Wednesday, Gore attacked the Texas governor's endorsement
of the huge House-approved tax cut package.
Addressing the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza, a
Latino rights organization, Gore cited portions of a new study ranking Texas
fourth from the bottom in a list of the best states to raise children.
"Here in Texas, the state with the second highest percentage of uninsured
children in America, we need to question how any leader could support such a
risky tax scheme," he said.
Gore's sole rival for the Democratic nomination, former Sen. Bill Bradley, has also criticized the Republican tax cut plans.
"We want to be able during these good economic times to make sure everybody's on that train, moving forward. So I'd spend it to try to raise children out of poverty and try to help people have health care in this country," he said.
Republicans say that since taxpayers created the surplus, they deserve the greatest payback.
"We think that this money should be given in tax relief to the American people, not spent by those know-it-alls back in Washington," said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.
Sen. Orrin Hatch
But one Republican presidential candidate is sounding a note of caution.
"They're all tied together: taxes, Medicare, Social Security, and the debt. We've got to have a setting of priorities, and looking at it -- at each of them as disconnected, I think, doesn't properly address these major challenges," said Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
The Senate is expected to vote on a tax bill of its own this week that is similar in size to the House bill but differs in what tax cuts it would make. A bipartisan group of senators is touting a compromise tax cut bill that would give cuts of $500 billion. President Bill Clinton has said he would veto each one, meaning the issue will likely end up in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in the fall.