House Speaker Dennis Hastert waved dollar bills at a crowd of auto parts workers Wednesday and pledged to put cash in their pockets in his opening bid to win public support for the $792-billion tax-cut plan Republicans pushed through Congress.
"The bottom line is that this Congress, both the House and Senate, believe the American people ought to have a little bit more money in their pocket, so that they can decide how to spend it, rather than the federal government," Hastert said.
His words were greeted with applause from many of the 150 blue-collar and management employees gathered inside the ITW Shakeproof plant in this northwest Chicago suburb, part of Hastert's congressional district.
"Anybody'd be stupid not to want a tax break," said Betty Sykes, a shipping supervisor planning to retire soon, after 32 years at the plant. "We're taxed to death."
The House and Senate approved the GOP tax package last week by a largely partisan vote. Party leaders won't send the measure to the White House until after lawmakers return from their August recess for fear that President Clinton could veto it and dominate the public-relations war in Congress' absence.
Instead, they have dispatched members to their districts, armed with suggested talking points and instructions to spread the message.
"Really this is the beginning of the debate in Washington," Hastert told the crowd. "Back here it's common sense."