Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bellmon: Tax Hike Wouldn't Hurt Bush

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bellmon: Tax Hike Wouldn't Hurt Bush

Article excerpt

Gov. Henry Bellmon on Tuesday said President Bush could probably raise taxes and remain popular, despite Bush's campaign promise to "read my lips, no new taxes."

Bellmon also said he could not figure out why people voted for him in his four statewide political races.

Bellmon spent last Friday with Bush, an old friend, when the president addressed graduating seniors at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

Bellmon said Bush "deplored" Friday news leaks that reported he invited legislative leaders to the White House last weekend to discuss budget issues.

"I did mention the fact that I felt like this was a good time to deal with the deficit issue before we get into a crisis," said Bellmon, who as a U.S. senator chaired the Senate Budget Committee.

Given his background, Bellmon said he has strong feelings against the U.S. budget deficit.

Bellmon disagreed when asked if he thought Bush had been wrong-handed in the way he has so far handled economic matters.

But, he said, "I felt that the president would make a mistake to wait until the country goes into an economic downturn, or until we have a surge of inflation, to deal with the issue. The time to deal with the issue is when we're having a stable economy or strong economy."

Bellmon said he complimented Bush on getting together with legislative leaders.

Asked if a Bush-backed tax hike would disillusion voters, Bellmon said that if the issue is handled responsibly and in a way the public understands, they will support whatever changes the president makes.

"I'd remind you that President Reagan ran on the platform `I'll balance the budget in four years,' and in place of that he doubled the debt and his popularity went right on up," Bellmon said.

The support for Reagan could have been based on many things, he said.

"I sincerely believe that voters support political officials who recognize problems and deal with them," he said. …

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