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Now that Congress has voted to give President Bush the authority to wage war against Iraq, candidates for Congress are starting to talk more about domestic issues.
About 50 people are standing inside a 70,000 square foot warehouse in Eagan. They're waiting for Republican John Kline and two Republican congressmen from Illinois to speak to them. The owner of the warehouse, Kent Harriges, says he's supporting Kline because he wants to see lower taxes. Harriges says his health care costs are rising. He also says he'd like to see Congress eliminate the inheritance tax.
"We shouldn't work, I don't believe, all our lives to build something, pay taxes on everything we've earned and then turn around and pay taxes on everything we've built up," Harriges said. "It's just double taxation."
Harriges and the others in attendance reacted warmly to Kline's plans for lowering taxes. He spent most of his time talking about the rising cost of health insurance, federal regulations on small businesses and high taxes. If elected, he says, he'd like to eliminate the estate tax, make the Bush tax cut permanent and cut the paperwork small businesses are required to fill out. He says small business owners could use the money they save to hire new employees.
"If we're going to keep America the leader of the world," Kline said. "A place of growth and opportunity, we need to make sure that businesses large and small can thrive and jobs can be created in the private sector so that these college students can have their chance at the American dream."
The economy is becoming a key issue in Minnesota's 2nd congressional district. Kline is hoping his message of tax cuts and smaller government resonates with the voters who have seen their stock portfolios and retirement plans drop. Kline believes tax cuts will help boost the sagging economy. He's attacking his opponent, Bill Luther, for not doing enough to lower taxes while in Congress.
Luther says he has voted to cut taxes a number of times in his four terms in Congress. He says he's not in favor of making the entire Bush tax cut permanent, but would like to see at least one part made permanent the elimination of the marriage penalty. He said he doesn't fully support the entire Bush tax cut or eliminating the estate tax for everyone because it would be tilted too far to helping the very richest Americans.
"I support tax cuts that are directed at mainstream America; working people who are in the middle class, who are providing the support for the economy in America," Luther said. "The problem with some of the proposals you hear is that the benefits go to the ulta wealthy. That's not the way to run our country."
Luther says he supports ending the estate tax for 99 percent of Americans. He says the best way the federal government can help the economy is by balancing the budget and cutting the deficit. He says a balanced budget will help keep interest rates down and send a signal to Wall St.
"The biggest tax cut the average Joe can get is to have low-interest rates in this country when it comes to home purchases, car purchases, other major purchases," Luther said. "Keeping those interest rates down. That will help the economy. If government has fiscal discipline. That will help and bolster the economy. The markets recognize when government is acting responsibly."
Minnesota's 2nd District is considered one of the most competitive in the country. It's the third time Kline and Luther are facing each other.