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Gramm Trying To Set Up Dole On Tax Cut Promise Republican Presidential Hopeful Using Budget Debate To Jockey For Position

Taking aim at the GOP presidential front-runner, Texas Sen. Phil Gramm said Saturday he saw “no evidence” that Bob Dole was committed to adding tax cuts to the Senate’s balanced budget plans.

Firing back, Dole promised the Senate budget would include a tax cut. And in pointed rejoinder to Gramm, the Senate majority leader said: “He knows where I stand - I’m his leader.”

The crackling debate offered fresh evidence that some of the GOP White House hopefuls lagging well behind Dole have decided the time has come to be more aggressive.

And it foreshadowed the high stakes of the week ahead for Dole, who has promised to add tax cuts to the Senate budget plan but faces stiff opposition from GOP deficit hawks who want to focus first on balancing the books.

In a speech to a Midwest GOP conference, Dole said: “We are going to give America’s families the tax relief they need and deserve. It is going to be in the Senate bill.”

As it now stands, the Senate’s balanced budget has no tax cuts. During debate this week, Gramm plans to offer an amendment calling for the $500 per-child tax credit included in the House GOP plan, and his intent Saturday appeared to be to set Dole up for the blame if there aren’t enough votes.

“We have some Republicans who have one foot firmly implanted in the dramatic change we committed to in the election, and they have the other foot firmly planted in business as usual in Washington,” Gramm said. “This week, they are going to have to pick one of those feet up.”

Speaking to reporters, Gramm said Dole hasn’t matched his public support for cuts with any steps to make sure they are incorporated in the Senate budget this week.

“I have seen no evidence that he has taken a position on my amendment or on our efforts to further cut spending and reduce taxes,” Gramm said.

“Maybe he hasn’t been there,” Dole said when told of that remark. Dole’s office has been consulting with several senators on a package of tax cuts that is somewhat smaller than the $189 billion House version.

Tags: Congress