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Senate panel approves tax package

Democrats overrode Republican complaints Friday and sent a large package of tax increases to the Senate floor, including increases on motor fuels, retirees and the wealthy.

"I think in the end I'll like it a lot," President Clinton told reporters of the package designed to cut the deficit by a record $508-billion over five years.

The measure, the heart of Clinton's deficit-reduction package, cleared the Senate Finance Committee on an 11-9 party-line vote, as expected.

With Clinton's blessing, Democrats are expected to use their majority to push the measure through the full Senate next week as they and the administration work to reverse 12 years of Republican economic policy.

The bill imposes $249-billion of new taxes and restrains the growth of a government health program for the elderly and poor by about $69-billion.

But it only promises Congress will deliver enough additional spending cuts to reach the projected $508-billion.

People making more than $100,000 a year would pay more than 80 percent of the tax increase.

The only Senate provision with broad impact on the middle class is the 4.3-cent-a-gallon increase in the tax on gasoline, diesel and other motor fuels. That's $43 a year for a family that uses 1,000 gallons.

About 2-million Social Security recipients whose incomes exceed $32,000 for a single person or $40,000 for a couple would pay more under the Senate plan; as much as 85 percent of their pensions _ up from the present 50 percent maximum _ would be taxed.

Republicans assailed the Senate bill as a new round of job-destroying anti-business tax increases designed to fuel more Democratic spending programs and deliver little real deficit reduction.