The Bush tax cut will give New York a huge boost, its backers say, but two Democratic senators may need convincing.
Gov. George E. Pataki is strongly endorsing President Bush's across-the-board tax cut and will urge the state's predominantly Democratic delegations in the House and Senate to support it, a spokesman for the governor said Thursday.
"There is no question that the tax package carries tremendous benefits for New York State," Joe Conway said. "While we are still conducting our analysis of the legislation, we are confident the Bush plan will help us."
The White House said Thursday the typical New York State family of four with two wage earners making a total of $57,000 a year would get a reduction of $1,943, or 40.6 percent of what they now pay in federal income taxes.
Pataki's backing carries the possibility of a confrontation with the state's two senators, Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, both Democrats who have criticized the proposed $1.6 trillion, 10-year federal tax cut.
Clinton has urged Congress to cut back on the plan and reserve a large part of the surplus for a "rainy-day fund" and improved education and training programs.
Schumer said Congress should not pass a tax bill until it acts on a budget. Schumer said he is troubled by possible overestimation of the surplus.
Bush's plan would reduce the five-rate personal income tax structure to four lower rates: 33, 25, 15 and 10 percent.
Other elements include doubling the child tax credit to $1,000 per child, reducing the tax penalty borne by married couples and eliminating the estate tax, which covers estates exceeding $675,000, about 2 percent of all estates.
Democrats, while supporting a tax cut of $800 billion to $900 billion, contend that Bush's plan would reward the rich and bring back budget deficits.
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., dramatized their objections by appearing with a black Lexus loaded with extras.
"If you're a millionaire, under the Bush tax cut, you get a $46,000 tax cut, more than enough to pay for this Lexus," Daschle said.
Then he held up a spare part and said, "If you're a typical working person, you get $227, and that's enough to buy this muffler." Pataki advisers and the state's business and conservative organizations call Bush's plan the best way to end the state's balance-of-payments deficit with the federal government.
"New York sends more to Washington in income taxes because New York's incomes are much higher than the norm, along with those of other Northeastern states," said David Shaffer, spokesman for the Business Council of New York and president of the Progressive Policy Institute.
"I was skeptical at first, but looking over the details, the plan makes a lot of sense," said Rep. Amo Houghton, R-Corning, who will review the bill as chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee. "Any time we can begin to give back to individuals money which comes from them in the first place, without crippling the economy, we should do it -- and enthusiastically."
Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, concurred, saying, "More than 57,000 people in my district -- 1.5 million in New York State -- are paying higher taxes because of the marriage penalty, and the president is looking to reduce or eliminate those types of unfair taxes."
Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda, has produced his own tax-cut bill, costing $400 billion over 10 years and aimed at helping the disadvantaged and stimulating business in distressed parts of the state.
Scott Morris, a LaFalce aide, warned that the president's plan to repeal the estate tax would cost the state government $400 million a year in federal rebates.
Rep. Jack Quinn, R-Hamburg, refrained from endorsing the bill but promised to "work closely" with Bush to pass tax legislation.
The Washington Post contributed to this story.