Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate sides with liberals in Congress over tax relief for economic stimulus

WASHINGTON- Erskine Bowles, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, yesterday took sides with Senate liberals on the most heated debate in Washington today: Tax relief.

At a speech in Winston-Salem on Wednesday, Mr. Bowles attacked the Republican-supported economic-stimulus package by saying "it would overwhelmingly reward the wealthy."

Taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform, called Bowles speech "class warfare rhetoric," because the Republican economic-stimulus package includes tax relief for 38 million low-to-moderate income workers. Norquist also said that under Bush\’s bipartisan plan, taxable income of Americans labeled "rich" by Senate Democratic leaders would get as low as $27,950 ($46,700 couples) in tax relief.

"Any changes to the current tax relief package could damage the economy further and just doesn\’t make good economic sense," said Norquist. "The President has put us in an excellent position to make a comeback this year. Bowles may want to learn a few things about economic policies and what his constituents want before continuing in his campaign."

Bowles-a Charlotte investment banker, former head of the Small Business Administration and White House chief of staff to President Clinton-entered the race in October for the seat Jess Helms will give up in 2003. He faces two other Democrats-Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Rep. Dan Blue, and two Republicans-Elizabeth Dole and Jim Snyder.

Mrs. Dole, who supports the Republican economic-stimulus package, plans to sign The Taxpayer Protection Pledge on Friday. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is a promise made by candidates and office-holders to "oppose any efforts to raise taxes," at the local, state, and federal levels.

"Mrs. Dole is taking the right step in signing the Pledge. She knows that her constituents and most Americans are in favor of the economic-stimulus package and more tax cuts," continued Norquist. "The road to economic recovery is paved with tax cuts to stimulate consumer spending and business investment, not class warfare rhetoric and more government spending, like Ted Kennedy and Erskine Bowles prescribe."