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Treasury had workers study Kerry's tax proposals

04/01/04

Mary Dalrymple
Associated Press


Washington
- The Treasury Department directed career employees to analyze tax ideas proposed by presidential candidate John Kerry and other Democrats after a request from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, officials said Wednesday.

The Republican National Committee posted an interactive feature on its Web site that attaches the largest of those cost estimates to Kerry's plan to raise taxes paid by the wealthiest taxpayers.


Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said he was unaware of anyone at the White House approving the Treasury's decision to analyze Kerry's tax plan.

Although federal law prohibits civil servants from working on political campaigns while on duty, Treasury Department attorneys concluded the work was appropriate, Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said.

The Treasury Department posted the analysis on its Web site March 22.

DeLay, a Texas Republican, requested the cost analysis to help counter Democratic attempts to amend budget and tax legislation with tax increases on higher-income taxpayers, DeLay spokesman Stuart Roy said.

Democrats said the Treasury Department used its civil servants inappropriately.

"The Bush administration has an ugly habit of using the federal government for its political agenda," said Kerry spokesman Chad Clanton.

The Office of Special Counsel advises that federal employees cannot "use official authority or influence to interfere with an election" or "engage in political activity while on duty." The office is an independent agency charged with investigating and prosecuting violations of federal personnel laws.

The Treasury Department analyzed the effect of three tax increases on individuals and couples who earn $200,000 or more. Kerry has pledged to roll back President Bush's tax cuts for those earning $200,000 or more.

The first would repeal a tax cut that reduced the top marginal income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 36 percent. The second would repeal dividend and capital gains tax cuts for taxpayers earning $200,000 or more. The third would prevent taxpayers earning $200,000 or more from claiming full personal exemptions and itemized deductions.



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