WASHINGTON YTB — WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is suggesting that Congress act rapidly on short-term tax relief early next year and then develop a second package of measures to deal with long-term economic problems.
The two-step approach was outlined yesterday by Budget Director Richard G. Darman during testimony to the Senate Finance Committee on tax bills to revive the sluggish recovery and lower taxes for middle-income Americans.
After meeting with President Bush, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said it might be possible to get a first-stage bill approved by Congress within 30 days after it reconvenes on Jan. 21.
"The president wants to get something done very quickly," Dole said. "If we go through our usual bickering and bidding war, we won't have a bill before June, and that could have an adverse effect, especially if we increase the deficit."
Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen, D-Texas, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, was cool to the two-package idea, however.
"We all want to avoid a bidding war where amendments are added to the tax bill like ornaments to a Christmas tree, but I don't think the answer is to have two Christmas trees," Bentsen said in a statement issued after the hearing. "The way we can avoid a bidding war is by leadership from the top down."
Even so, it may not be possible to restrain lawmakers from trying to attach their favorite tax-cut provisions to the first bill going through Congress that has presidential approval.
Darman said the two-stage concept had been discussed only in the past few days and many problems remained, including advance agreement on the second phase, before it could be adopted.