Saturday, March 15, 2003

Treasury secretary visits town

Snow says president's plan would boost wages

By Amy Higgins
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Not making shareholders pay income tax on their dividends would make public companies more profitable and more accountable, U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow in Anderson Township on Friday.

Workers would be more productive and earn higher wages, stocks would rise, and the economy would strengthen, he said. "We'll be a more abundant society."

Snow visited Greater Cincinnati as part of his first official trip since being appointed to Bush's Cabinet in January.

Snow visited Columbus and suburban Cincinnati on Friday at the invitation of Rep. Rob Portman, a Republican from Terrace Park, to help promote Bush's $726 billion tax cut proposal.

The duo spoke to a few hundred people at the Anderson Area Chamber of Commerce and a few dozen residents of the New England Club retirement community, focusing mostly on the president's proposal to eliminate the personal income tax on dividends.

The tax break is central to the 10-year, $726 billion stimulus package Bush introduced in January.

But the proposal is struggling even within the president's party. Ohio Sen. George Voinovich said this week that he would vote against any tax cut proposal of more than $350 billion.

"He's always been a deficit hawk," Portman said, adding that Voinovich would likely back the plan if it also came with spending cuts.

While in Columbus, Voinovich appeared with Portman and Snow and repeated his opposition to the proposal.

He added that he has no problem with the elimination of taxes on dividends and that he thinks that the economy could be stimulated. But he is concerned with the growing deficit.

"He supports the elements of the plan," Snow said. "He's basically on board."

New England Club resident Wilbur Adams has already e-mailed Voinovich asking that he support the dividend tax cut.

Adams, 81, said he mostly lives off his investments and their dividends and would save thousands in taxes each year under Bush's proposal.

"I'd starve if I just lived on my Social Security," Adams said. "This would be a wonderful thing for me."

Snow said eliminating the tax would also help 10 million other seniors.

He said his mother lived partly on dividends after retiring from teaching in Toledo.

"She wasn't rich, and it would have helped her," Snow said, answering critics who claim that Bush's plan only benefits the rich.


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