Conflict of Visions: State of the Union sees a tax-cutting President rebuked by a governor whose state maintains the highest cost of government in America.

WASHINGTON – When asked the question of whether they would like an America with lower taxes and less government or more government and higher taxes, Americans go overwhelmingly with the former. And tonight\’s State of the Union address by President Bush – and Democratic response by Gov. Gary Locke (Wash.) – will bring to that conflict of visions front and center in America\’s political debate.

President Bush campaigned on a tax cut, the size of which rivaled Ronald Reagan\’s historic 1981 tax relief package. Bush\’s $1.3 trillion plan passed Congress in June of 2001, and over the next eight years will lower all marginal tax rates, as well as eliminate the Death Tax, Marriage Penalty, and expand the per-child tax credit from $500 to $1,000. Last winter, the President fought for an economic stimulus package that further reduced taxes, and earlier this month proposed eliminating the double taxation of dividends, which if passed will stimulate investment and save taxpayers another $674 billion over ten years.

The Democratic response to the State of the Union will be given by Washington Gov. Gary Locke. Locke has consistently fought against tax relief in Washington State – including a massive, voter-passed car-tax relief initiative in 1998 – while state budgets have increased. Meanwhile, according to the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) 2002 Cost of Government Day Report, Washington State maintains the second-highest cost of state government in the nation. He left Washington State with a $2.4 billion budget hole.

"What we have in tonight\’s State of the Union and Democrat response is a conflict of visions – the likes of which has not been seen since the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O\’Neill," said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, who heads ATR in Washington. "President Bush is a tax-cutter through and through, while Locke is a paleoliberal with a viscous and reckless record of hiking taxes and expanding the size of state government at the expense of Washington State taxpayers. Differences between the two parties have never been clearer."