Lieberman proposes raising taxes on wealthy

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Democrat Joe Lieberman, hoping to jump-start his presidential campaign with a fresh attack on White House policy, is promising to ensure that upper-income Americans pay more taxes than they did before President Bush's record-breaking tax cuts.

As part of what the Connecticut senator calls a major tax reform package, he also would adjust income tax rates to lower the burden on middle-class Americans, many of whom already received cuts under Bush's policies.

Lieberman is trying to give a lift to his campaign after languishing near the bottom in key state polls and fund-raising. He is being urged by supporters and staff to abandon Iowa's caucuses and focus his resources on a handful of states that hold elections afterward. A major shift in strategy is likely soon, campaign officials say.

Yearly deficit cuts

By reducing spending and raising taxes on the wealthy, Lieberman believes he can cut the deficit every year he's in office and balance the budget by the end of his second term.

The details were provided by senior campaign officials who spoke on condition of anonymity about Lieberman's weeklong critique of Bush's policies and character.

Calling his five-day tour "Leading With Integrity," Lieberman is contrasting his reputation for moral certitude -- he was a leading Democratic critic of President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky -- with what he says is the Bush's failure to keep promises.

Lieberman began the tour Monday in Hartford, Conn., then traveled to New Hampshire to outline his case against Bush in a way he hopes distinguishes himself from eight Democratic rivals.

"My friends, next November, integrity is on the ballot. I know that is one we can win," he told about 200 supporters at a riverfront park in Hartford.

In Keene, N.H., Lieberman shook hands on his way into Timoleon's restaurant, and told the crowd, "I've never seen people in America more worried about the future than they are today." He accused President Bush of "taking care of a small group of people."

In a text of his address planned for delivery in Manchester, N.H., Lieberman said Bush has been less than honest with Americans about Iraq, the environment, the federal deficit, education and the economy. A supporter of Bush's war resolution, Lieberman said Iraq is now "teetering on the brink."

On the first day of his tour, Lieberman focused on his economic plan. He argued that the administration has shifted tax burdens from the wealthy to middle-income earners.

'Class warfare'

"That's class warfare," Lieberman said. "I'm proposing a cease-fire. By leading with integrity, we can restore fairness to the tax code and give some real help to struggling American families."

Under his plan, a married couple earning $50,000 annually would save up to $1,000, he said.

Lieberman would do that by changing income tax brackets.

He also would reverse Bush-backed tax breaks given to people earning more than $200,000 annually -- and impose a limited surtax on them. The surtax, which campaign officials did not detail, would ensure that the wealthy do not benefit from the rate changes.

The tour is taking Lieberman to Oklahoma, South Carolina, Florida and Michigan. Iowa is absent from the list, a sign that his campaign is shifting resources from -- and perhaps pulling out of -- the early caucuses because of his dismal showing there thus far.

All but Florida are key early voting states in the primary fight. Florida is the site of the 2000 election recount, where the Gore-Lieberman ticket narrowly lost to Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney after a Supreme Court appeal.

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