President Bush has signed the nation's deficit-cutting agreement, a package of tax hikes and spending cuts that evolved from a long and excruciating struggle between Congress and the White House.
Bush signed the five-year package at 9:20 p.m. Monday after a day of campaigning in Texas.After signing the agreement, Bush inked the fiscal-year appropriations bills that cover federal spending.
The compromise deficit-cutting legislation, passed by Congress on Oct. 27, was forged by House and Senate leaders and administration officials in three weeks of frantic and often bitter bargaining after the House, on Oct. 4, rejected an earlier agreement.
The final package calls for about $490 billion in deficit reduction through 1995, including a $40 billion rollback during fiscal 1991 that started Oct. 1.
Included in the plan are initiatives to raise some $137 billion in new tax revenues. Among the provisions are:
-An increase of the top income tax rate to 31 percent from 28 percent.
-A phase-out of high-income personal tax exemptions and limitation on deductions.
-An increase in the maximum income subject to Medicare tax.
-A series of new excise taxes on such items as gasoline, tobacco, alcohol and luxury items.
The plan also included a cut of nearly $43 billion in Medicare, the health insurance program for the elderly, with savings coming from reductions in patient payments and increases in beneficiary contributions.
In a statement, Bush said: "This act is the result of long, hard work by the administration and the Congress. No one got everything he or she wanted, but the end product is a compromise that merits enactment."
Bush alienated many members of the conservative wing of the Republican Party by renouncing the anti-tax promise that served as the foundation of his 1988 presidential campaign.
Many GOP candidates are actively distancing themselves from the president's support of the budget compromise.
Since Congress finalized the deal, Bush has sought to portray Democrats as solely responsible for the tax elements of the package, saying government spending cuts favored by the administration were held hostage to tax hikes favored by congressional Democrats.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that he did not believe the election-eve signing would have any impact on Tuesday's vote.