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Bush Faces Tough Battle Ahead for Economic Plan - 2003-01-12

U.S. President Geoerge W. Bush's strongest allies in Congress predict his economic stimulus plan will win legislative approval. But there are signs a tough battle lies ahead.

The new majority party leader in the U.S. Senate said the Bush plan will pass.

Senator Bill Frist said he cannot rule out some changes to the package, which calls for a further $670 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. But the Tennessee Republican told NBC's Meet the Press that the president will win. "I am absolutely convinced, because our economy is so sluggish with this jobless recovery, that it will pass with bipartisan support," Senator Frist said.

But even some members of the president's own party have expressed reservations about the size of the plan and the extent of the tax cuts at a time of rising federal budget deficits.

Democrats have, in effect, declared political warfare on the Bush package. Appearing on ABC's This Week program, the top Democrat in the Senate, Tom Daschle of South Dakota, denounced the White House tax cut proposal as "risky" and said it is skewed to benefit the rich.

"I can't imagine that an American today, with all the prospects of war, with all the unfairness we see, with sacrifice for some and a giveaway for others; that this is something an American can support. Eighty-nine thousand dollars for every millionaire in this country each and every year as we contemplate war is the most unfair and reckless approach that I think this administration could put forward," Mr. Daschle said.

The White House has maintained that the tax cuts will benefit all Americans, and will eventually enable the business sector to grow and create new jobs.