Thursday, March 11, 2004

Read On, Rebuffed

From the New York Times:

In Rebuff to Bush, Senate Raises Bar for Tax Cuts


WASHINGTON, March 10 — The Senate dealt a surprising election-year rebuke on Wednesday to the White House goal of new tax cuts as it narrowly backed a new rule to require at least 60 votes to approve any tax cuts in the next five years.

Four Republican senators — Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, John McCain of Arizona and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine — joined Democrats in the 51-to-48 vote.

Mr. Bush has called on Congress to make permanent his tax cuts, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the decade. Republicans in Congress had already sidestepped action on his request this year, in an election campaign in which voters are concerned about the $478 billion budget deficit.

But under the amendment approved on Wednesday night, any tax cuts — or spending increases — in the next five years will require 60 votes for approval in the Senate, unless supporters are able to find spending cuts or other tax increases to make up for the money that would be lost, said Senator Russell D. Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who sponsored the amendment.

To quote the immortal Bill the Cat from Bloom County: “Phhfft!”