The $500-per-child tax credit for families may be getting most of the attention, but the House's GOP's "Contract With America" tax-reduction package also gives businesses much of the relief they wanted.
One major tax cut and one of the most criticized - elimination of the corporate minimum tax - wasn't even in the original GOP proposal.Business groups, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to manufacturers, real estate agents, restaurant owners and bankers, all are strongly backing the package of $189 billion in tax cuts over five years. They hope an accord reached between House GOP leaders and moderates will give Republicans the margin they need to pass the bill.
The accord, a watered-down version of the Republican moderates' proposed amendment to the bill, would prevent the tax cuts from becoming effective unless Congress later this year adopts a budget that projects a balanced budget by 2002.
"We think these are very defensible policies," House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning." "We are for a lower deficit, less taxes and a smaller government. We're committed to getting to a balanced budget by 2002."
"We have taken what was a tax-cut bill and made it a balanced-budget bill with a tax-cut component. We have changed the fundamentals of what we're dealing with," said Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., a leader of the moderates.
However, Rep. Glen Browder, D-Ala., dismissed the deal as "a fig leaf alternative" that lacked the threat in the moderates' original amendment of permanently revoking the tax cuts if any of a series of specific annual deficit targets for fiscal 1996 to 2002 was missed.
Browder and other conservative Democrats had joined with Castle, Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and other moderate Republicans in pushing the tougher version.
Despite the agreement with GOP moderates, the Republican leadership was not yet certain of having enough votes to pass the bill. It can spare only 12 Republican defections without having to count on Democratic votes.
However, Gingrich, R-Ga., predicted the votes would be in place by Wednesday, the scheduled start of the debate.
"Frankly, I think one of the incentives we have is that if we don't pass this we're not going home. And I think we'll get the last three votes on that threat alone," Gingrich said Monday.