Bush Promotes Home-Buyers’ Credit at Construction Site With AM-Political Rdp
BELCAMP, Md. (AP) _ President Bush on Friday promoted his home-buyer tax credit as an economic stimulus and said he had no interest in compromising with congressional Democrats who ditched his plan in favor of their own.
Bush, on a quick trip to a home-construction site, stepped up the election- year fight over who has America’s economic best interests at heart. He attacked a Democratic alternative that does not include the credit, saying the House Ways and Means Committee had come up with ″a scheme that raises taxes and ... kills my plan to help these first-time home buyers.″
On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said the White House should ″support a good plan″ rather than spend time insulting the Democrats.
Mitchell, D-Maine, was asked during taping of an interview for the ″McLaughlin One on One″ show to comment on White House press secretary Marlin Fitzwater’s characterization of tax-writing Democrats as ″weasels going into a hole.″
″I think, frankly, it’s somewhat unpresidential for this kind of shrill name-calling to come from the White House,″ Mitchell said.
He argued anew that Bush’s proposals favor the wealthiest Americans and said that Republicans have pursued ″soak the middle-class″ tax policies for 15 years.
Bush, in hard hat and cowboy boots, tramped through a construction site to spotlight his proposal for a $5,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers.
His half-day trip out of the capital came the day before a weekend visit to New Hampshire, where he will make a last-weekend effort to drum up support for Tuesday’s primary.
After touring some of the homes and condominiums, priced at between $60,000 and $160,000, Bush told reporters, ″Anyone who wants to buy a home like this under my plan would get a $5,000 tax credit. And under the Democrats’ current package, they would get zero.″
The core of the Democratic plan is a tax credit of up to $200 per wage earner in each of the next two years; a couple could get up to $400 a year. The size of the credit depends on a worker’s wages, but about 80 percent of all workers would get the maximum.
On the other hand, Democrats would raise the 31 percent top tax rate to 35 percent, affecting generally single people would incomes over $100,000 and couples over $200,000. In addition, a surtax would be imposed on individuals with taxable incomes over $1 million a year.
The Democrats’ plan would also allow penalty-free IRA withdrawals for buying a first home but does not include a tax credit such as the one Bush has proposed. The Democrats also are proposing that the $125,000 profit a person 55 or older may take tax-free on the sale of a principal home be raised yearly to account for inflation.
Even before the details of the Democratic plan were announced, however, Bush said, ″I don’t want to compromise″ with the Democrats on the abbreviated package he wants them to pass by March 20. It includes a capital gains tax cut, the home buyers’ credit, incentives for business equipment purchases, penalty-free IRA withdrawals for home buyers and a special benefit for real estate developers.
The Democratic package also would cut taxes on capital gains and corporations but would raise taxes on higher income people.
Bush sought to portray himself as taking the high road to get his seven- point plan through Congress quickly.
″Let’s set aside the politics as usual, get this part done and then I’ll go to battle stations with them on how I think the rest of this package should be enacted,″ he said. ″What we need is to stimulate the economy.″
Accompanied by Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Bush toured homes under construction in the Arborview development 30 miles north of Baltimore.
Bush aides said the three builders, Ryland Homes, Keystone Homes and Stapf Homes, ultimately plan 1,000 homes there. And Bush said they would add 90 homes to some 256 planned for this year if his tax-credit proposal passes Congress.
Further, Bush cited National Association of Home Builders figures estimating that his plan would result in 415,000 new construction industry jobs as buyers take advantage of the tax credit and builders reap tax benefits.
On capital gains, the Democrats are focusing on one reduction targeted to investment in the stock of small business and a second, general cut that would go only to those with incomes under $150,000.
The plan by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, D- Ill., picks up several Bush provisions, including a tax deduction for interest on student loans; penalty-free Individual Retirement Account withdrawals for home buyers and for paying medical or education expenses, and special relief for real estate professionals.