(Host) Both of Vermont’s U.S. senators say they are backing a plan to help pay for President Bush’s $87 billion Iraq proposal by rescinding part of the most recent tax cut for wealthy people.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) Both Senators Patrick Leahy and James Jeffords say they are concerned about increasing the federal deficit to pay for the president’s Iraqi package.
While a majority of the money will go to fund military operations in Iraq, $20 billion has been earmarked for projects to help rebuild that country’s economy and infrastructure. For instance, the Bush administration wants to purchase 2,000 garbage trucks at a total cost of $100 million, and it has proposed building two new prisons that would cost $400 million.
Jeffords says the only way he could support this spending request is if the Senate adopts an amendment, sponsored by Delaware Senator Joseph Biden, that rescinds the recent tax cut for all people with incomes above $300,000 a year:
(Jeffords) “I have opposed the Iraq operation from the beginning and as time goes by things are getting worse and worse. And I cannot believe that we are willing to give away the resources of this nation in such a cause that presently has not proved to be very worthwhile in the sense of its goals.”
(Kinzel) Leahy says rescinding the tax cut for wealthy Americans is a fair way to pay for the president’s plan. If this step isn’t taken, Leahy is concerned that some of this country’s key priorities will not be addressed:
(Leahy) “If those tax breaks are at least held up – they’re not going to have increased taxes but hold up the tax breaks for a few years – you can pay for much of what we’re doing in Iraq. Otherwise we’re going to say is, for every school we build in Iraq those are schools we can’t build in the United States. For every hospital we build in Iraq, that’s hospitals we can’t build here. And for every college scholarship we give in Iraq, that’s college scholarships we can’t give in the United States. I think that’s wrong.”
(Kinzel) Leahy says he’s also working on a provision for this bill that would extend health care benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves who are called into service.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.