TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — President Bush, brushing aside concerns
about the unprecedented budget deficit, renewed his demand that
Congress extend his tax cuts, and charged yesterday that Democrats
would hike taxes.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the front-running Democratic
presidential candidate, said he agreed with Bush on keeping in
place two tax cuts mentioned by Bush. Kerry said Bush’s
overall economic policies had failed to create jobs.

“President Bush’s failed economic policies have
resulted in the loss of 3 million jobs and the biggest surpluses in
history turned into the biggest deficits,” Kerry said.

The duel between Bush and Kerry foreshadowed a major issue in
this year’s presidential campaign, with Bush trying to cast
Democrats as tax-hikers and the Democrats saying Bush’s tax
cuts favored the rich.

The exchange exposed a fundamental policy difference: Bush wants
all his tax cuts made permanent, while Kerry would halt tax
reductions for Americans who earn more than $200,000.

The tax bills that Bush signed in 2001 and 2003 contain
expiration dates next year on some provisions. The child tax credit
would drop from $1,000 per child to $700, and some married couples
would have to pay more than they would as two single
individuals.

Kerry favors making permanent the child tax credit, and
permanently ending the “marriage penalty,” campaign
spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said.

Bush spoke at a window factory, the latest such plant he has
chosen to showcase what he says are the favorable impacts of his
tax policies on small business. His makeshift stage was near the
production floor, and he was flanked by small business owners and
an employee.

The White House bills these events as “conversations on
the economy,” but there is never disagreement, only positive
reinforcement of Bush’s message.

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