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ALTHOUGH Democrats have denounced President Bush's tax plan and Republicans have praised it, the two sides are much closer to agreement than either lets on.

Instead of squabbling while the economy burns, they should put aside their differences and pass immediate tax relief as quickly as possible.

In Washington, there's little disagreement with Bush's claim that Americans deserve a ``refund.'' A surplus, by its very nature, indicates that the government has overcharged taxpayers by taking in more in taxes than it needs for spending.

With Washington projecting a surplus of $5.6 trillion in the next 10 years, the taxpayers who have paid to make the surplus possible deserve some relief.

And the economy demands it.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress on Tuesday that the economic slowdown shows no sign of reversing itself any time soon. He has endorsed the idea of cutting taxes to help spur economic growth.

Now's the time. Thanks to the past decade of prosperity, federal coffers have swelled to the point that the government can afford to shore up Social Security, pay down the debt and cut taxes.

Republicans and Democrats alike have backed this prescription. Both sides favor some sort of a tax cut, but they're at loggerheads over the particulars - how much to cut and for whom.

These differences are important. They speak to basic American notions of fairness and equality. But in constructing the nation's tax plan for the next 10 years, Washington must not forget about the needs of Americans in the next 10 months.

Dwelling on ideological differences now could derail a tax cut at a time when the economy can't afford to wait.

In the short term, Republicans and Democrats must work together where they already agree, and quickly pass a tax cut that will infuse cash into the economy and bolster consumer confidence.

If that means putting aside some of the controversial aspects of the tax debate for the time being, so be it.

In order to secure a quick resolution, Democrats might need to accept a bigger cut than the $900 billion they have offered. And Bush might have to concede to simply scaling back the estate tax, instead of eliminating it outright.

Ideological conceptions of the ``perfect'' tax cut shouldn't stand in the way of a good tax cut that could revitalize the economy. For all the talk of ``changing the tone'' in Washington - putting results before partisanship - here's the opportunity.

Let's see whether the two parties can find the common ground, do what's right for America and begin to restore public confidence in our government.

And do it now!
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 1, 2001

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