WASH INGTON (B)-- If Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins the U.S. presidency, Congress would probably approve a "substantial" tax cut, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-MS said Dec. 10. However, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, said the incoming Congress, with an equally divided Senate, would not approve a tax cut anywhere near the size of the $1.3-trillion over 10 years that Bush has advocated since December 1999.

Lott would not predict enactment of a tax cut as large as Bush has advocated, but "I think there will be a major tax bill next year." Lott said a large tax cut would stimulate a slowing U.S. economy and help spur investment in energy production in the face of tightening petroleum supplies.

While Democrats are "willing to work" with Republicans on a tax cut, " I do not think that we'll ever go to the magnitude that George Bush has proposed," Daschle said.

The U.S. needs to use much of its expected budget surpluses to continue retiring national debt, Daschle said. A tax cut the size of Bush's would "destroy the fiscal opportunities we have to retire the debt in the not-too-distant future," he said.

If Bush has his Republican allies introduce and press for his current tax cut, "the signal that would send is that they really are not prepared to work with us," Daschle said.

Daschle again said Democrats would insist on equal power and influence in a Senate that will be split 50-50 when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3. Both lawmakers were interviewed on CBS TV's "Face the Nation."

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