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Bush Continues Push for Tax Plan - 2003-05-13

President Bush is traveling around the United States, waging an all-out campaign for Congressional approval of his tax cut plan. Mr. Bush is appealing directly to voters, urging them to put pressure on their elected representatives.

The president's latest two-day tour to promote his tax plan is taking him to the southwest and the heartland of America. He is stopping in factories and community centers, in small towns and big cities, telling local audiences that his tax cut plan is the proper medicine for an ailing economy.

"[The] unemployment rate hit six percent the other day," he said. "And that ought to be a wake-up call to members of the United States Congress that we have an issue in this country, and we need policies that will get people back to work."

In Omaha, Nebraska, Mr. Bush blamed the nation's slow-growing economy on several factors: the volatile stock market, the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the cost of the war in Iraq. Earlier, he told a crowd near Albuquerque, New Mexico, that cutting taxes will put more money in the hands of American consumers -- cash they will then spend on goods and services. He said these increased sales will allow businesses to expand, and create a ripple effect that will result in economic growth and more jobs. "My proposal is based upon this principle: If your economy is too slow, you need to increase demand for goods and services," he says. "And the best way to create demand for goods and services is, let the people keep more of their own money."

President Bush originally asked the U.S. Congress to approve $726-billion in tax cuts. The House of Representative voted for $550-billion, which the White House said it could accept. But the figure now being debated in the Senate is much smaller, roughly half the president's request.

And so Mr. Bush is focusing on a small group of Senators from both parties who might be persuaded to vote for a higher figure. They include Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson, who attended the speech in Omaha.

Most Democrats say they want some kind of tax relief, but not the massive package supported by the president. They say it will only increase the federal budget deficit and the national debt. White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said Senator Nelson might be one of those Democrats who is willing to think differently.