Politicians trade barbs in battle over stimulus bill

Monday, December 17, 2001

WASHINGTON -- The Senate's Democratic leader said Sunday there is an even chance of a compromise this week on legislation to stimulate the struggling economy, while President Bush's budget director said "there's a deal in there somewhere" being held up by politics.

Congressional leaders from both parties spoke of the need for action, then accused the other side of stalling for political gain and jeopardizing the chance of any bill passing before year's end.

"I've been at that table now for two weeks," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas. "I haven't seen one item where the Democrats have said, 'Yes, we will now accept some of your priorities.'"

Denying the Republicans' claim that they had made all the concessions, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said, "They want you to believe that, but I have yet to see where the evidence is."

Blocking a deal were three points: whether to accelerate some of the income tax cuts enacted earlier this year, how to get health insurance assistance to the unemployed and whether to repeal or adjust the corporate alternative minimum tax.

For Daschle, whom the White House has called obstructionist, "now's the time to prove that he's a leader," said Mitchell Daniels, the president's budget director.

"He's got to retain the support of some tax and spend extremists in the Democratic Senate caucus, people for whom taxes can't be high enough and we can never spend too much government money. So, he's in a delicate position," Daniels said.

"There's a deal in there somewhere, and I think only politics has prevented it from happening already," Daniels said on CNN's "Late Edition."

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