The final budget plan that will emerge from Congress will mean sharply higher taxes for upper-income Americans, Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said Monday.
The House and Senate are expected to approve rival deficit-reduction plans this week in an effort to keep the government from shutting down for the second time this month.House Democrats are calling for an increase in the top rate paid by the wealthiest, from 28 percent to 33 percent. The Senate Finance Committee is proposing limiting deductions that can be claimed by upper-income taxpayers, which also would serve to increase taxes on the wealthy.
The administration opposes the House Democratic plan, which would require higher-income taxpayers to bear about two-thirds of the proposed tax increase.
President Bush told reporters on Air Force One on Monday that he met that morning with minority leaders Rep. Bob Michel, R-Ill., and Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan.
He said they were "pretty much on the same wavelength" in preferring the Senate Finance Committee proposal over the House Democratic plan.
But Bush, en route to Texas for the first stop of a two-day campaign trip, refused to say what he might do about taxes.
"That managed to get a little confused last week, so what I'll do is to say the action's in the Congress and I will take a look at what comes out," he said. "We've indicated to our leaders our preferences."
Mitchell, D-Maine, told reporters he hoped the two versions could be blended "to get an even more progressive tax package."
Bush and Congress have been negotiating for months on a deficit-reduction plan to cut spending and increase taxes by about $500 billion over five years.
Mitchell said the burden on the rich would be considerably higher under the Senate Finance Committee bill compared with a plan worked out among congressional leaders and the White House. That agreement was rejected by the House.
The Finance Committee bill includes a 91/2-cent-a-gallon increase in the tax on gasoline.