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Dems Toss Tax Cut Pitch Back At Bush

President Bush, focusing increasingly on his domestic agenda, turned up the pressure Saturday on lawmakers of his own party who are resisting his demand for half a trillion dollars in new tax cuts.

Mr. Bush derided members of Congress who, although a part of the Republican majority that supports fresh tax relief, are refusing to accept the amount the president says is necessary to revive the economy.

"Since they already agree that tax relief creates jobs, it doesn't make sense to provide less tax relief and, therefore, create fewer jobs," Mr. Bush said in his weekly radio address. "I believe we should enact more tax relief, so that we can create more jobs and more Americans can find work and provide for their families."

Mr. Bush eschewed his usual weekend stay at Camp David in nearby Maryland to attend Saturday night's annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington.

There were several signs that, despite the lack of an official declaration and the continuing presence of over 100,000 American troops in Iraq, the war there is all but over.

The White House restored its normal practice of publicizing Mr. Bush's calendar for the coming week, which was suspended with the start of Persian Gulf hostilities.

In addition, Iraq was not the subject of Mr. Bush's weekly radio address for the first time since February, moved aside by the coming congressional battle on the size of tax cuts.

Lawmakers significantly scaled back the president's original proposal for $726 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. The House capped new tax relief at $550 billion, and the Senate said it should be no greater than $350 billion. Two Republican senators were opposed to any new cuts, and two others adamantly rejected any above $350 billion.

That political reality has led the White House to scale back its expectations, saying at least $550 billion is now the president's goal.

The situation also has led to White House efforts to bring recalcitrant Republicans in line. Last week, Mr. Bush took his tax-slashing message to the home state of GOP Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, who has insisted that new cuts be limited to $350 billion.

In Saturday's radio address, Mr. Bush repeated the plea for new tax cuts he said he heard from a Youngstown, Ohio, businessman. Despite polls that show public skepticism about the need for new tax cuts, Mr. Bush also suggested some lawmakers are out of touch with the mood of the country. "Americans understand the need for action," he said.

But Democrats, who argue Mr. Bush's proposal mainly would help the rich and not the economy, have kept up the pressure as well.

Delivering the Democrats' weekly radio address, Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones said larger investment write-offs for businesses and bigger reimbursements for health care providers would work more economic magic than Mr. Bush's proposed elimination of dividend taxes and acceleration of already planned reductions in income tax rates.

"For the last two weeks, President Mr. Bush and his advisers have traveled the country, including a visit to my home state, trying to sell their massive tax cut to the American people. They are wrapping it in fancy paper and calling it a `stimulus package' or an `economic plan,"' Jones said.

"They can dress up this tax cut any way they want, and it's still just that - a tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans that does nothing to create jobs and will only sink our nation further into debt," Jones said.

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