Bush's Tax Cut Lights No Fires

George W. Bush, education, New Hampshire, Campaign 2000
Despite recent efforts by George W. Bush to explain his proposed $1.3 trillion tax cut, it hasn't caught fire like his campaign expected, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker.

"We have a surplus," Bush has said on the campaign trail. "I want to share some of that surplus with the people who pay the bills."

Bush proposed massive cuts last winter when tax-bashing billionaire Steve Forbes seemed his main opponent in the GOP primaries. Yet not even tax-averse New Hampshire warmed to them, for Bush lost its primary to John McCain. Even on Bush's first return trip to New Hampshire on Wednesday, tax cuts still don't sparked much support, just debate.

"Being a native of New Hampshire, what the people are looking for is not so much a tax cut as a future," said Floyd Parshley, a resident of the Granite State.

Steve Smith, another New Hampshirite, said tax cuts are a big issue for him.

"I've got a family," he said while getting his haircut. "I could use the tax money."

But George Frangos, a barber, saw it differently.

"That's for the rich, that's what I think," said Frangos. "Rather let us take the deficit down, so our kids don't have to pay for it."

More than half Bush's across-the-board cuts would go to households earning more than $90,000. But Bush argues everyone would pay less. A two-income family of four earning some $47,000 would enjoy almost a $2,000 cut. Still, polls show tax cuts aren’t the voter magnet they once were here or across the country.

"It's difficult to sell a plan when you have the economy going good and there's nothing for people to get mad about," said Andrew Smith, a political scientist at the University of New Hampshire. "I don't think you can sell taxes as more money in the pocket, because people already have money in their pockets."

And that could be a problem for Bush. Adam Fishman, an independent New Hampshire voter who voted for John McCain in the February primary, said he won't vote for Bush, partly because of taxes.

"The adult thing to do is accept that we spent other people's money for 15 years and now you pay it back," said Fishman, who along with his wife Madeline first spoke to CBS News before the primary. "You know, it didn't wash with me back in February - and it still doesn't wash with me."

Still, the Bush folks insist their tax plan is a winner. And though they admit it hasn't caught fire so far, they remain confident it will as the campaign heats up these final two months.