President Bush, giving up on a plank from his 1988 campaign platform, said Wednesday that although he has been "intrigued by the concept of tuition tax credits," he has concluded the nation cannot afford it.

In rejecting an idea that had been pushed by Ronald Reagan throughout his two terms, Bush also said, "I think it is the obligation of all taxpayers to support a public education system."The Reagan administration had promoted tax credits for parents of private school children as a way to provide more choice in education, but the idea faced intense opposition in Congress on grounds it would undermine public education.

Bush was asked about tuition tax credits Wednesday in addressing a group of 75 high school students at the White House. One private school student, asked if Bush thought his parents "should get a tax break."

"No, I don't," Bush said. The president said the boy's parent had a "right" to send him to private school, but also an "obligation" to support public schools.

"I have been intrigued with the concept of tuition tax credits but the problem (is) we cannot afford to do that," Bush said, referring to record budget deficits and escalating national debt.