Tax-reduction plans for the middle class are sprouting faster than Democratic presidential candidates, but Maryland's only representative on Congress' tax-writing committee says time is running out for a plan to pass Congress this year.
Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he would like to see a bill passed to remedy problems with the tax system.
But it will be difficult, he acknowledged, to reach an agreement on such a contentious issue before Congress adjourns at Thanksgiving.
Furthermore, the committee's influential chairman, Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill., has staunchly opposed any change until next year, Cardin, R-3rd, said during a speech yesterday before the Baltimore Economic Society.
However, a spokesman for Rostenkowski said late yesterday that the chairman may offer his own plan next month.
The constitution requires revenue bills to originate in the House, and Rostenkowski has been careful not to let any bill pass his committee that could be amended with tax-changes in the Senate.
Meanwhile, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, proposed over the weekend a plan to give $300 in tax credits for each child under 18 in a family. The money would be made up by reductions in defense spending.
Also, some members of Congress are urging that a fully deductible Individual Retirement Accounts be available to all taxpayers regardless of income. More than three-quarters of the Senate and a majority of House members have endorsed one or more IRA plans.
Earlier this year, Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., and Rep. Thomas Downey, D-N.Y., proposed a measure to reduce taxes for the middle class and increase them for the rich. Republicans are said to be urging President Bush to get into the game with a tax cut of his own.
Cardin said he is concerned about any measure that would increase the federal budget deficit, the reduction of which he said should be the nation's "No. 1 priority."
In general, he said he favors the approach of the Gore-Downey bill over that of Bentsen's because it does not violate the hard-won agreement reached between Congress and the White House last year.
"We're going to be working very hard to pass a tax bill," Cardin said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.