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HOUGHTON, QUINN FIGHT TAX CUTS WNY REPUBLICANS HOPE TO IMPROVE PLAN

Two Buffalo-area Republican moderates are fighting to change one of the centerpieces of the GOP's "Contract With America": a $188 billion, five-year tax cut.

Rep. Jack F. Quinn, R-Hamburg, said Thursday that he is meeting with other House moderates in hopes of devising ways to improve the tax cut plan when it comes to a House vote in early April.

Meanwhile, Rep. Amory Houghton Jr., R-Corning, said: "To cut taxes back at this point is just wrong."

Quinn said he was meeting with members of the Coalition, a group of conservative Democrats and other Republican, moderates to devise proposed changes. He said his goal is to ensure that Congress pays for any tax cuts it enacts so that the deficit won't continue to grow.

Other members participating in the meetings with Quinn include Reps Bill Orton, D-Utah, and Mike Castle, R-Del.

"To approve tax cuts before they're paid for is a dangerous thing," Quinn said. "We're just talking about areas of common interest to make some possible changes in the way this is done."

Quinn, who has put deficit reduction at the top of his agenda since his 1992 election to Congress, said he could have more details about possible amendments to the bill as early as today. He said he would not make any commitment to the tax bill until the final vote.

"A lot of people have concerns," he said. "A lot of people are saying they don't want to vote for any tax cuts right now."

Houghton is one of those people. He said the overall budgetary impact of the tax cut plan could be $700 million over 10 years, and that that money would have to be made up with dramatic cuts in discretionary federal spending and limits on popular entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

"The impact would just be so staggering," he said.

What's more, Houghton said that in his recent weekly trips to his Southern Tier district, "I haven't heard a single person, save for one, say this tax cut is a good idea."

Houghton said he raised his concerns about the tax bill before the Ways and Means Committee, which considers all revenue measures. Houghton voted for the bill when the Ways and Means panel approved it, but only "to get it to the floor for a vote," as was called for in the "Contract With America," which he signed last September.

Once the bill reaches the floor, "I'm telling members of the leadership they should not count on my vote," he said.

Houghton made his comments in response to questions about a letter that he, Quinn and 103 other Republicans signed to advocate a rollback in a proposed tax cut for the wealthy.

The letter, to the Republican leadership, asks that the bill's $500 per child tax credit be limited to people making less than $95,000 a year. As spelled out in the contract, families making up to $200,000 a year would qualify for the tax break.

That child-tax credit, along with a capital gains tax cut, are the centerpieces of the Republican tax plan.

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