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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                   (Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts)
For Immediate Release                                     August 5, 2000


I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 4810, the "Marriage Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000," because it is poorly targeted and one part of a costly and regressive tax plan that reverses the principle of fiscal responsibility that has contributed to the longest economic expansion in history.

My Administration supports marriage penalty relief and has offered a targeted and fiscally responsible proposal in our fiscal year 2001 budget to provide it. However, I must oppose H.R. 4810. Combined with the numerous other tax bills approved by the Congress this year and supported by the congressional majority for next year, it would drain away the projected surplus that the American people have worked so hard to create. Even by the Congressional Budget Office's more optimistic projection, this tax plan would plunge America back into deficit and would leave nothing for lengthening the life of Social Security or Medicare; nothing for voluntary and affordable Medicare prescription drug benefits; nothing for education and school construction. Moreover, the congressional majority's tax plan would make it impossible for us to get America out of debt by 2012.

H.R. 4810 would cost more than $280 billion over 10 years if its provisions were permanent, making it significantly more expensive than either of the bills originally approved by the House and the Senate. It is poorly targeted toward delivering marriage penalty relief -- only about 40 percent of the cost of H.R. 4810 actually would reduce marriage penalties. It also provides little tax relief to those families that need it most, while devoting a large fraction of its benefits to families with higher incomes.

Taking into account H.R. 4810, the fiscally irresponsible tax cuts passed by the House Ways and Means Committee this year provide about as much benefit to the top 1 percent of Americans as to the bottom 80 percent combined. Families in the top 1 percent get an average tax break of over $16,000, while a middle-class family gets only $220 on average. But if interest rates went up because of the congressional majority's plan by even one-third of one percent, then mortgage payments for a family with a $100,000 mortgage would go up by $270, leaving them worse off than if they had no tax cut at all.

We should have tax cuts this year, but they should be the right ones, targeted to working families to help our economy grow -- not tax breaks that will help only a few while putting our prosperity at risk. I have proposed a program of targeted tax cuts that will give a middle-class American family substantially more benefits than the Republican plan at less than half the cost. Including our carefully targeted marriage penalty relief, two-thirds of the relief will go to the middle 60 percent of American families. Our tax cuts will also help to send our children to college, with a tax deduction or 28 percent tax credit for up to $10,000 in college tuition a year; help to care for family members who need long-term care, through a $3,000 long-term care tax credit; help to pay for child care and to ease the burden on working families with three or more children; and help to fund desperately needed school construction.

And because our plan will cost substantially less than the tax cuts passed by the Congress, we'll still have the resources we need to provide a Medicare prescription drug benefit; to extend the life of Social Security and Medicare; and to pay off the debt by 2012 -- so that we can keep interest rates low, keep our economy growing, and provide lower home mortgage, car, and college loan payments for the American people.

This surplus comes from the hard work and ingenuity of the American people. We owe it to them to make the best use of it -- for all of them, and for our children's future.

Since the adjournment of the Congress has prevented my return of H.R. 4810 within the meaning of Article I, section 7, clause 2 of the Constitution, my withholding of approval from the bill precludes its becoming law. The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655 (1929). In addition to withholding my signature and thereby invoking my constitutional power to "pocket veto" bills during an adjournment of the Congress, to avoid litigation, I am also sending H.R. 4810 to the House of Representatives with my objections, to leave no possible doubt that I have vetoed the measure.


                                   THE WHITE HOUSE,
                                   August 5, 2000.

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