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CLINTON MAY ANNOUNCE PROPOSAL TO CUT TAXES

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Trying to get a jump on Republicans, President Clinton is previewing his new agenda in a speech Thursday night and is expected to announce his proposal for a middle-class tax cut.

"I think what he'd like to do before Christmas and perhaps this week is outline in just a little bit more detail where he's going to take the country," White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers said Monday.Clinton and senior advisers are considering a tax credit for families earning less than $100,000 a year, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was quoted as saying by the Washington Post. Brown said there had been no decision on the upper income limit, but it was likely to be between $75,000 and $100,000.

Republicans are proposing cuts for earnings up to $200,000.

Clinton planned to meet for several hours Tuesday with budget advisers, said deputy White House press secretary Ginny Terzano.

Terzano said she did not know whether House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri had consulted with the White House before announcing that House Democrats would propose their own tax cut for families earning less than $75,000 a year - extending it to all workers, not just those with children.

Meanwhile, none of the broadcast networks had yet agreed to carry Clinton's speech live, she said. "We invite them to," she said.

"It's an opportunity for him to say what we can do as a nation to get things back on track," she said.

CNN said it would broadcast Clinton's speech live at 7 p.m. MST Thursday. Other networks said they had not yet decided on coverage.

Clinton is looking into a variety of radical budget surgery procedures, including elimination of complete agencies and departments, to reduce the deficit and pay for a tax reduction.

Top administration aides have suggested in recent weeks that a tax cut of about $50 billion over the next five years would be included in the new budget. It would most likely benefit families with children, aides said.

Republicans have accused Clinton of being a copycat in his newfound fondness for his abandoned 1992 campaign tax-cut pledge.

"President Clinton is simply trying to catch up with the thinking of Republicans and most Americans by proclaiming his support for a middle income tax cut," incoming House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich, R-Ohio, said.

Gephardt, D-Mo., offered his vision of the direction his party should move after the thrashing it received in last month's elections. He contrasted that with the goals of the new majority Republicans who "want to hold up a punching bag for people's frustrations."

"It's the tried and tested GOP formula: division, exclusion and fear. It's wrong and I think people should reject it," he said.

Gephardt's proposed tax cut would apply to workers earning less than $75,000 regardless of whether they have children. Republicans have proposed a $500-per-child tax credit for people with incomes up to $200,000 annually.

"So the American people will have a choice between two tax cuts," Gephardt told the Center for Economic Policy, a Democratic-oriented think tank. "The Republican tax cut, which gives a tax rebate for every child of the rich, or the Democratic tax cut, which say that all working people deserve a break - not based on the size of the families, but based on the size of their incomes."