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Dole aides hint at huge tax cuts

The tax-cut proposals being considered by Bob Dole's presidential campaign range as high as $600-billion over six years, but Dole has not made any decision on the size of the reductions or how to pay for them, campaign aides said Thursday.

Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Dole, the likely Republican presidential nominee, called again for the size and powers of the IRS to be reined in, saying, "I think we can downsize the IRS."

He offered no specifics, although his aides are considering a variety of proposals, including shifting IRS personnel from auditing to assisting taxpayers in preparing returns.

Dole has said he plans to make a tax cut the centerpiece of his economic platform. But despite increasing pressure from fellow Republicans to present his plan, Dole, who has long put deficit reduction ahead of tax cuts, has continued to study various options. Aides suggested the plan will be announced closer to the Aug. 12-15 convention in San Diego, Calif.

These include an across-the-board reduction in tax rates of 10 or 15 percent, repeal of tax increases enacted by Congress in 1990 and 1993, making Social Security taxes deductible, a reduction in the capital gains tax and incentives for savings and investment.

In a memo sent Thursday to Republican political leaders, Dole's two top policy advisers, Donald Rumsfeld and Vin Weber, and his campaign manager, Scott Reed, wrote that Dole "has not reached a final decision on all the details of his growth plan."

An across-the-board reduction in tax rates of 15 percent could cost $100-billion a year in revenue and would likely be phased in over six years. Advisers to Dole said some of the cost would be offset by the additional economic growth a tax cut would stimulate.

The $600-billion tax cut is "under serious consideration," Nelson Warfield, Dole's spokesman, told reporters traveling with Dole.

"There are a variety of different options, with different price tags associated with them, and that is one of them."

The Washington Post on Thursday reported that one economic analysis circulating within the Dole campaign stated that a $600-billion tax cut could be largely offset by the economic growth that the tax cut would bring. The analysis asserted that as much as 40 percent of the revenue lost through a tax cut of that magnitude could be recaptured through the effects of higher growth.

Responding to the Post report, Dole said, "It's not my announcement and it's not my plan."