Some GOP leaders say the fight over tax cuts isn't over just yet
By Dana Bash/CNN
September 10, 1999
Web posted at: 4:29 p.m. EDT (2029 GMT)
WASHINGTON -- After top Republican leaders indicated that their 10-year, $792 billion tax cut plan would likely die after a presidential veto, other members of the GOP leadership said Friday they should not give up the fight.
Rep. J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said the GOP strategy is not to put off the tax cut bill.
"I was not in any meetings yesterday that it was concluded or said that we were going to abandon tax relief for this year," said Watts.
Sen. Paul Coverdell of Georgia, secretary of the Senate GOP Conference, told reporters "it ain't over till it's over."
"Only a fool would attempt to predict what a legislative body will do, and we'll just have to see how it plays out. There are a lot of views about how and what the next step should be." said Coverdell. "But there are two irrefutable realities here. One is that there's a very short clock and a lot to do and number two, the president has not shown a propensity to offer tax relief."
Watts and Coverdell joined a group of Republican lawmakers at a news conference to dispute reports that their attempt to push their tax cut bill last month with about 600 town hall meetings was a failure.
Despite polls indicating tax cuts are not a top priority for Americans, the lawmakers claim they found nothing but support for their tax cut plan once they explained it to their constituents.
"I am in total opposition to what the polls are showing," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).
"I think it is worth the fight to give Americans tax relief at the same time that we are setting the priority of saving Social Security first, paying down the debt, adding to Medicare spending, and making sure that we have a cushion for emergencies that we might not foresee. And that is exactly what the Republican plan is that we are sending to the President," she said.
On Thursday, House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas echoed Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's opposition to drawn out negotiations with the White House over tax cuts.
"What we're not willing to do is to get ourselves into some complex negotiation with the White House where they initiate some increase in spending for us for a reduction in taxes for you. We just don't believe that is a dignified process," Armey said.
Watts seemed to disagree with that position.
"I don't believe the American people believe that it's shameful for us to lose a fight, but I do believe they think it's shameful for us not to fight," said Watts.
"Republicans will fight for this tax relief package, this tax fairness package. We were for tax cuts yesterday. We're for tax relief today and we're going to be for tax relief tomorrow."
Republicans are expected to hold a rally for the tax bill early next week before they send it to the president, where it faces a veto.