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GOP Dissent

President Bush’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform released its report Tuesday, suggesting several measures to simplify the current system. But two Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee quickly urged the president to reject some of the panel’s recommendations. [IMGCAP(1)]

Reps. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) and Mark Foley (R-Fla.) expressed special concern about a recommendation to eliminate deductions for mortgage interest and state and local property taxes, saying the deductions would amount to a tax hike for the 80 percent of Americans who itemize their returns. The deductions “underpin homeownership and the social and economic benefits it generates,” Weller and Foley said in a joint statement.

Treasury Secretary John Snow was noncommittal about what recommendations the administration might pursue.

Out for a Bite. Veteran trade-association lobbyist John Gay has been named senior vice president for government affairs and public policy for the National Restaurant Association.

Gay had most recently been vice president for government affairs at the International Franchise Association. Before that he was vice president of government affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Both groups have policy overlap with the restaurant association. During the mid-1980s, Gay was an aide to then-Sen. Mack Mattingly (R-Ga.).

Gay, who takes his post Dec. 1, fills the spot vacated when Lee Culpepper left to become chief lobbyist for Wal-Mart.

Raising a Stop Sign. The Level Field Institute, a new group that has been casting a critical eye at the foreign auto industry, sent letters to all Members of Congress on Tuesday urging them to back its campaign to force Toyota to stop its operations in Iran. But a Washington, D.C.-based Toyota spokeswoman said that “Toyota doesn’t manufacture in Iran and has no plans to expand business in Iran.”

The letter, signed by executive director Jim Doyle, cites press accounts about Toyota business in Iran and also cites recent statements by Iran’s president that “Israel must be wiped off the map.”

“We hope you’ll join the Level Field [Institute] and allow your name to be displayed on our Web site as a supporter of this effort,” Doyle wrote. LFI’s funding comes in part from the retirees of the big U.S. automakers.

Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss said the news accounts about the company’s intended expansion in Iran “are inaccurate.”
— Louis Jacobson and Kate Ackley

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