WASHINGTON (AP) President Bush sent his $1.6 trillion, 10-year tax-cutting proposal to Congress yesterday, insisting it is a necessary tonic for the economy. “A warning light is flashing on the dashboard of our economy and we just can”t drive on and hope for the best,” he said.

“We need tax relief now. In fact, we need tax relief yesterday,” the president said before dispatching Treasury Secretary Paul O”Neill to the Capitol to deliver the plan to eager Republican leaders.

Before a room full of reporters at the Capitol, O”Neill handed a summary of the plan to GOP leaders, who accepted it with glee. The documents were little more than a press release, and O”Neill said the administration would be releasing details in coming weeks.

“We want to assure the American people that tax relief is on the way,” said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

Bush spoke from the White House Rose Garden, where Latino business owners who he said symbolize the economy”s potential, crowded around as he signed a letter formally sending the outlines of his proposal to Congress.

“I urge the Congress to pass my tax relief plan with the swiftness these uncertain times demand,” Bush said. Republican leaders have said they hope to have tax cuts signed into law by the July 4 holiday but a fight over the scope of the package is brewing on Capitol Hill.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer reiterated yesterday that Bush is “firmly committed” to the plan he put together. “The president believes that whether you”re a Republican or whether you”re a Democrat, the bill shouldn”t be loaded up,” Fleischer said.

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