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Washington briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001


Bush open to compromise on tax cut

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Wednesday he would scale back his $1.6-trillion tax cut, acknowledging that resistance from key Senate Democrats would force him to compromise on a proposal he has championed for months as vital to the flagging economy.

After meeting with centrist Democrats who told him he would have to reduce the tax cut, the president said for the first time that he would accept a lower figure. "It's going to be less than $1.6-(trillion) and greater than $1.2-(trillion) and we've got to figure out how to make it work," Bush said.

Bush's willingness to compromise on taxes, along with comments Wednesday in which he said he is willing to deal with Congress on his education program and spending plan, reflected a pragmatic response as Bush's legislative agenda hits congressional roadblocks, particularly in the evenly divided Senate.

In a series of interviews timed to mark his first 100 days in office, Bush revoked a threat to veto spending bills with increases above his target of 4 percent and indicated a new willingness to work with the Democrats on his education program.

Government won't seek to drill on Atlantic Coast

Interior Secretary Gale Norton has been at odds with Gov. Jeb Bush over oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. But she hinted this week that she might be willing to prevent leases on Florida's Atlantic Coast.

In a letter to Bush, Norton said she might recommend that leases be prohibited in an area that stretches from the Florida Keys around the tip of the state to about West Palm Beach. Leases are already prohibited north of West Palm Beach, so her action would effectively block all leases on the Atlantic Coast.

However, Norton's action was more symbolic than substantive. Energy companies have not sought to drill in that area, and the Department of the Interior has no plans to issues any leases there.

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