A White House spokesman on Tuesday defended President Bush's newest rationale for tax relief as another in "a series of good reasons," saying deep cuts would ease the pain of high U.S. gasoline prices.
With a $1.35 trillion, 11-year tax cut moving through the Senate this week and Bush preparing to roll out a national energy strategy on Thursday, the two issues have converged -- at least at the White House.
At a news conference last Friday Bush touted tax relief as a solution to rising prices at U.S. gas pumps, not once but a dozen times in the 30-minute question-and-answer session.
It was at least the sixth different justification for a big tax cut Bush has offered since Dec. 1, 1999 when, as a Republican candidate for president, he unveiled his tax relief package during a speech in Des Moines, Iowa.
"I think what you're seeing is a series of good reasons why taxes should be cut, and that's why there's bipartisan support to cut taxes," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters who pressed him about Bush's shifting rationale.
Among the initial reasons Americans needed a tax cut was simple fairness, knocking down what Bush called "the tollbooth on the road to the middle class" and making the tax code more equitable for "the single mother struggling to raise two children."
With the U.S. economy booming, his proposed $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax cut was essential to keep prosperity going and when growth began to slow, tax relief became necessary to refuel "the sputtering economy."
Over the course of the campaign and since he was sworn in on Jan. 20, Bush variously sold his tax cut as a means to prevent the federal government from spending the U.S. budget surplus, a boost to small business, and a way to help Americans to pay off consumer debt -- WASHINGTON (Reuters)
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