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The BBC's Paul Reynolds
"Growth is slowing"
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The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington
"It is not a huge amount"
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The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Washington
"Mr Bush talked of a difficult economy"
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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 17:39 GMT
Bush seeks sweeping tax cuts
President Bush signing tax relief plan
Mr Bush made cutting taxes a key campaign pledge
US President George W Bush has sent a $1,600bn tax-cutting proposal to Congress, saying swift action is needed to help kick-start the American economy.

A warning light is flashing on the dashboard of our economy and we just can't drive on and hope for the best

George W Bush

The 10-year plan - a key policy goal for Mr Bush - will offer cuts in tax for all income bands.

The plan has been criticised by the Democrats, who say it disproportionately favours the rich.

Speaking in the White House garden, Mr Bush said he had to act without delay to tackle a slump in consumer confidence.

'Jump-starting' economy

"Today I am sending to Congress my plan to provide relief to all income tax payers, which I believe will help jump-start the American economy. We must give overcharged taxpayers some of their own money back," Mr Bush said.

He said he hoped Congress would pass the legislation "with the swiftness these uncertain times demand".

Democrat Congressmen protest against Bush plan
Democrats say the Bush plan is heavily weighted towards the rich

"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."

Mr Bush said he was determined to reduce marginal tax rates for the lower paid and those running small businesses.

The plan is essentially the same as his campaign proposal, which would cut tax rates across the board, eliminate estate taxes, reduce disparate treatment for two-income married couples, encourage charitable giving and simplify the tax code.

It was his first event in the White House Rose Garden since taking office. Hispanic business leaders, whom he said were symbolic of the economy's potential, watched as he signed a letter formally sending the outlines of his proposal to Congress.

Divided Democrats

Analysts have until recently been suggesting that the proposals were unlikely to be passed by an evenly divided Congress.

But a BBC correspondent in Washington says divisions among the Democrats, and forecasts of a larger than expected federal budget surplus, have strengthened President Bush's position.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan had said he now approves of tax cuts.

However, our correspondent says there is still lot of arm-twisting to be done before the plan is passed.

Republican leaders have said they hope to have tax cuts signed into law by the 4 July holiday.

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See also:

08 Feb 01 | Business
Can Bush avert recession?
05 Feb 01 | Americas
Bush: Tax cuts for all
26 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush confirms 'Star Wars' plan
17 Dec 00 | Americas
Bush foreign agenda takes shape
04 Feb 01 | Americas
Powell alters Bush campaign pledges
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