Republican Genevieve Atwood says the budget votes of Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, hurt senior citizens and the working class while "sneakily" claiming to tax the super-rich.

But Owens says he is supporting President Bush while Republican Atwood is not; is taking positions that actually help the middle class and senior citizens by taxing the super-rich more; and has a new poll that shows a majority of Utahns favor the positions he has taken.He also charges that Atwood's positions are "irresponsible" and "are against deficit reduction."

Atwood started the bashing over the budget Wednesday with a press release saying, "Wayne is buying his own party's line of tax, tax, tax. Yes, we must balance the budget, but to call this (latest Democratic) tax package a tax on the rich is sneaky.

"Wayne's (Democratic) package is taxing our senior citizens and the working men and women in this country in order to fund many unnecessary programs such as the congressional pay raise."

She said the Treasury Department figures a married couple with two children and a taxable income of $34,000 would have a 6 percent tax increase if the budget plan from House Democrats is adopted.

Owens countered that the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation figures the average tax increase from the Democratic package for people with incomes between $10,000 and $50,000 is 1 percent, while the increase for those making more than $200,000 would be 7 percent.

"It would have less impact on middle income groups than the package the president accepted last week, and for which I voted," he said.

"Opposing that original package (which Atwood did) was irresponsible, which Jake Garn and Jim Hansen also said, although not referring specifically to Genevieve," Owens said. "Her position is opposed to deficit reduction. I support President Bush on deficit reduction, firmly and strongly."

Owens is also paying Penn & Schoen Associates of New York to conduct a "tracking poll" in Utah, which continuously surveys people on aspects of the race.

He said figures as of last weekend showed that Utahns favored the congressionally passed resolution calling for a $500 billion deficit reduction by a 46-26 percent margin.

It also showed that 47 percent of Utahns felt that a member of Congress voting to cut the deficit just before an election as he did shows courage, compared to 34 percent that said such votes just hurt people in his district.

The poll showed Utahns were about evenly split on whether they favored the original budget package pushed heavily by Bush, which the House rejected but for which Owens voted. It said 41 percent favored it, 42 percent opposed it and 16 percent were undecided.

The poll also suggested that controversy about the budget has not affected the Owens-Atwood race much.

It showed Owens with a 49-38 percent lead, or 11 percentage points. Just after the Republican primary, the poll showed Owens with a 50-38 percent lead, or 12 points.

Owens said that spread has remained fairly constant, which makes him disbelieve a Salt Lake Tribune poll last weekend that showed Owens' lead had grown to 22 points.