Springfield State Journal Register

January 8, 2003

Bush plan likely to be revised by lawmakers

Copley News Service

Even while President Bush was formally unveiling his $674 billion
economic stimulus proposal in Chicago Tuesday, some Illinois
Republicans on Capitol Hill were predicting the plan wouldn't
survive in its current form.

"I'm going to try to support something reasonable, but what the
president is proposing today will not be the final bill that ultimately
be considered," said Rep. Ray LaHood, a Republican who represents
Peoria and part of Springfield.

LaHood said he believes the president is "on track" by proposing
to permanently eliminate the inheritance tax and the marriage tax and
to speed up tax-rate cuts that already have been approved. "I also
believe a capital gains reduction is a way to stimulate the economy,"
LaHood said. However, he added, "whether the president will get
all he wants on that, I think remains to be seen."

LaHood, a deficit hawk who has defied his party by voting against
tax cuts as recently as October 2001, said any debate on an economic
stimulus package should include its impact on the federal deficit.
"We are in a wartime economy, but that doesn't continue to justify
these deficits," he said.

Bush unveiled his proposal as the new 108th Congress convened with
Republicans in the majority in both the House and Senate, giving
the Republican president a unique opportunity.

Underscoring the economy as a key political issue over the next
two years, Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., was invited to accompany
President Bush on Air Force One for the Chicago announcement. Both
of them are seeking re-election in 2004.

"I certainly feel that his plan is very positive," said Fitzgerald
in a telephone interview from the presidential plane.

Asked whether the federal government could afford the revenue
loss, Fitzgerald said: "I agree with the president that we should try to

control spending and I also believe that this will stimulate the

He said it "won't diminish government revenues to the degree that
some think" because certain individuals and businesses ultimately
will pay taxes on more income.

Republican Rep. John Shimkus, who also represents part of
Springfield, said he supports the Bush plan and believes there are areas
spending that can be cut to help offset the lost revenue. But he
also said he doubts that even a GOP-led Congress will pass the entire

"In negotiations, you always throw out your best case. Will he
take something less? He probably will. What that number is, I don't
know," Shimkus said of Bush's strategy.

Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, said he would vote for the Bush
package in its current form.

"I believe speeding up tax relief and putting more money into the
hands of Americans is a good concept," Johnson said.

Democrats, including Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Lane
Evans, whose new district includes part of Springfield, said Bush's plan

favors the wealthy.

"I think that any tax cut taken up by the Senate has to focus on
stimulating the economy as quickly as possible and have a bottom line
fairness rule - a majority of the benefits should go to the
majority of Americans," said Durbin.

Durbin noted that most of Bush's proposed tax benefits won't have
any benefit until 2004, when taxpayers file their 2003 tax returns.

Evans supports an alternative $136 billion stimulus plan announced
by House Democrats Monday.

The Bush plan "favors a few and fails to provide an immediate
boost. It may help the stock market but not the job market," Evans said.