(CNS) Texas Governor and Republican presidential contender George W Bush Tuesday committed himself to "oppose and veto" income tax increases while dedicating himself to New Hampshire's "First in the Nation" status for presidential primaries.
In a move certain to rattle various state party officials seeking to become presidential primary heavyweights, Bush pledged to recognize "the special role" of New Hampshire's presidential primary, traditionally the first primary in the country.
In a letter to New Hampshire Secretary of States William Gardner, Bush wrote, "Before I arrive in New Hampshire next Monday, I wanted you to know that I will not campaign in any state or allow a declaration of candidacy to be filed on my behalf in any state that holds its presidential primary earlier than seven days after the New Hampshire primary."
Bush continued, "I recognize the special role New Hampshire's 'First in the nation' presidential primary plays and look forward to campaigning vigorously for the support of the 'Granite State's' voters."
Bush then pledged his opposition to increasing personal and corporate income taxes, promising to veto any legislation seeking a tax hike, if elected president.
In a letter to Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Bush said he "will oppose and veto any increase in individual or corporate marginal income tax rates or individual or corporate income tax hikes."
"Such increases would reduce productivity, remove money from the pockets of Americans at a time when taxes already take a record peacetime share of national income, and hurt our country's ability to provide high quality, high paying jobs," Bush added. "I will also oppose any further reduction or elimination of income tax deductions and credits, unless offset dollar for dollar by reducing tax rates."
Norquist responded to Bush's pledge by saying he's "pleased as punch" to have Bush's commitment to oppose a tax increase. In a telephone interview with CNS, Norquist laid to rest any speculation that such a pledge would put Bush in the same category with a similar pledge made by former President George Bush.
"I think it is because his father broke his commitment that he's more sensitive than most candidates to the importance of only making a commitment he's going to keep," Norquist said. "So I'm very confident that, if elected, he'll keep the pledge."
Norquist said the only barrier to the current Congress passing a tax cut is President Bill Clinton's determination to veto any tax relief legislation. "If you knew the president would sign it, we could abolish the death tax tomorrow with Democrat votes, too," Norquist said.
Asked about the likelihood of enacting a tax cut in light of the slim Republican majority in the House, Norquist said putting Republicans in control of Congress and the White House would mean a variety of tax cuts for Americans. "I think a Republican Congress and a Republican President would start by abolishing the death tax, cutting the capital gains tax, expanding IRA's and 401(k)'s and (would) work to move towards a single rate tax."