‘Read our lips’ redux: GNP affirms tax cuts

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‘Read our lips’ redux: GNP affirms tax cuts

The Grand National Party flip-flopped on killing a tax cut for the rich and big corporations, revealing a division within the ruling party over its attempt to become centrist conservatives.

On Tuesday, GNP Chairman Ahn Sang-soo said the ruling party, long labeled as the party for the rich and elite, will recast itself into centrist conservatives representing the middle class.

That was in line with efforts by the Lee Myung-bak administration in recent months to get closer to the working classes by promoting economic policies that promote a “fair society.”

On Wednesday, GNP spokeswoman Bae Eun-hee said the party was reviewing “seriously” a proposal by reform-minded Representative Chung Doo-un to cancel tax cuts for the rich and big corporations scheduled for 2013.

But four hours later, Bae reversed herself and said her remark had been an “over-interpretation” on her part.

GNP Chairman Ahn said yesterday that he had used the word “consideration” at a party meeting regarding Chung’s proposal to kill the tax cuts, but said he only meant that the party would consider whether the proposal was relevant or not.

“It is just for reviewing it, no more than that,” said Ahn at a party meeting yesterday. “We review every idea coming from the party members [regardless of whether we will take it or not].”

Ko Heung-kil, the GNP’s chief policy maker, also stressed yesterday that there was no change in the party’s stand over the tax cuts, saying taxes on companies should be lowered so they could create jobs for the youth.

The opposition claimed the flip-flop was proof that the GNP’s fair society push was mere rhetoric.

“The GNP had better admit frankly that it is not willing to go working-class-friendly,” said Jeon Hyun-heui, Democratic Party spokeswoman. “It should come out as being pro-conglomerate and pro-rich.”

The plans to cut income and corporate taxes were proposed as part of the Lee administration’s stimulus package last December, but the tax cut for the highest income bracket and a corporate tax cut for large companies were postponed until 2013.

Chung said yesterday that the party should accept his proposal to show that it means what it says about working for the working class.

“The GNP appears to be going ahead with the tax reduction as if it is sure it will stay in power after the next presidential election,” he said.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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