Stepping up pressure on House Democrats to move ahead with a tax cut bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said yesterday he hopes to have a Senate tax bill passed within two weeks. This would reverse the traditional procedure whereby the House passes tax legislation and sends it to the Senate.
Dole also said his committee is looking for a better way of boosting savings than the so-called all-savers certificate included in the panel's $280 billion, three-year bill reported out last week.
The certificate, which would allow savers to earn up to $1,000 tax free ($2,000 for a married couple), has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee, too. It has been heavily supported by the beleaguered savings and loan industry, but is opposed by the administration as too costly and inefficient.
Dole said there was considerable doubt about whether such an "all-savers" certificate would really promote overall saving, or whether "there would just be a transfer of funds in certain [high tax] brackets to get the $1,000 or $2,000 tax-free interest."
However, if the committee cannot come up with a better incentive for saving then it will swallow its doubts about the new certificate, and keep it in the bill, Dole said.
He called a news conference to announce his intention to file the panel's bill on July 6 for likely floor action the week of July 13. The bill includes a 25 percent cut in individual tax rates over three years, and a big business tax cut centered on accelerated and more generous depreciation write-offs for investment. The president supports the bill strongly, Dole said.
If it is passed by the Senate it may be introduced by House Republicans and conservative Democrats as a substitute for the House committee bill, sources said. The Senate bill would have to be tacked onto another revenue bill to get around the requirement that tax bills originate in the House.
Dole told reporters he hoped that the Senate would work quickly on the plan, finishing up on Friday or perhaps Saturday of the week of July 13. Rep. Barber Conable (N.Y.), ranking Republican on Ways and Means, commented yesterday that keeping to that timetable would require "some degree of discipline on the part of the Senate."
To speed the process Dole has asked senators to hold off from loading the tax bill with amendments, and has promised in a letter that a second tax bill will be introduced this year. This could include special interest measures such as tuition tax credits and charitable contributions. However, Dole indicated that he expected such proposals to be put forward for inclusion in this bill.
Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) has promised to get a tax bill onto, and off, the House floor by Aug. 1 when Congress is due to recess. A spokeman yesterday confirmed that he was sticking to this timetable.
However, Dole said it was imperative that a bill be passed through both houses before the summer recess to give time for a tax cut to be put into effect this year. "If Congress does not act soon," he said, "it will be impossible to deliver any tax relief to the American people this year."
He said that Rostenkowski had told him there was no effort to delay the bill in the House, and Dole commented, "I don't think there's any desire on their [the Democrats'] side to be blamed for individuals not getting any tax cut in 1981."
Dole said he told Rostenkowski the Senate was "not racing his committee, but racing the calendar.