Saturday, May 10, 2003

N.Ky. Rep. Lucas one of only four Democrats who voted for tax cut

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas was one of only four Democrats who voted for President Bush's $550 billion tax cut Friday.

"I am a strong supporter of tax cuts that will help working Americans keep more of what they earn so that they can invest in their families and improve their quality of life, and my votes have consistently reflected this philosophy," said Lucas, who represents Northern Kentucky.

Lucas said the tax cuts will encourage economic growth, while cuts in the tax rates on stock dividends will help retirees.

One of the House's most conservative Democrats, Lucas last year backed Bush's agenda more than any other Democrat, according to Congressional Quarterly. Bush easily won Lucas' district in 2000.

The House approved the $550 billion tax cut package Friday that would trim levies on wages, capital gains and some business investments but give President Bush a smaller reduction than he wanted on corporate dividend taxes.

Lucas faces another tough re-election bid in 2004, when he seeks a fourth term - in violation of his pledge to serve only three.

Three Republicans are campaigning to run against him: business consultant Geoff Davis of Boone County, who nearly beat Lucas in 2002; Erlanger lawyer Kevin Murphy; and former Campbell County Judge-executive Lloyd Rogers. A fourth Republican, Campbell County Judge-executive Steve Pendery withdrew Wednesday, citing unspecified family concerns.

The rest of the Tristate's House delegation voted along party lines. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., voted against the tax cuts, while the four Republicans who represent Southwest Ohio voted for them.

"Tax relief is the best medicine for an ailing economy," said Rep. John Boehner, R-West Chester, who said the package would create 35,000 jobs in Ohio alone.

In the Senate, one of the main obstacles to passing Bush's tax cut is another Tristater, but this one's a Republican: Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio. His refusal to back any tax cuts over $350 billion, unless they're accompanied by spending cuts or closing tax loopholes, has enraged some conservative Republicans.

The Club for Growth, an anti-tax group, this week began airing a second round of ads on Columbus TV, this one accusing Voinovich of threatening Ohio's job growth.

"President Bush knows tax cuts create jobs, and that helps balance the budget. But Senator George Voinovich opposes the president," the ads say. "Ohio has lost thousands of jobs, and President Bush has a plan to help."

Voinovich has said he supports tax cuts, but doesn't want to add to the deficit. He backed a compromise package passed Wednesday by the Senate Finance Committee. That comes up for a vote next week, but a final version will have to be negotiated between the House and Senate.


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