WASHINGTON -- Amid congressional doubts about his tax-cut plan, President Bush is hitting the road to rally public support for the proposal and the education reforms that are high among his budget priorities.
Bush was traveling Tuesday to Columbus, Ohio, and St. Louis to visit two schools and talk about his education package. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, took a similar school tour two years ago when he was pressing Congress for national testing standards and funds for charter schools.
Bush's plan would tie federal funds to student performance in failing schools and pull federal dollars from schools that fail three years in a row, allowing students to use that money to enroll elsewhere.
"The president is taking his comprehensive education reform agenda to the people," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "His education reform agenda is based on making sure no child is left behind."
In Columbus, Bush was to tour Sullivant Elementary School, which has 350 students and is evenly split between black and white children. The school has three homeless shelters in its enrollment area and has been focused on improving student test scores.
Last year, 31 percent of Sullivant's fourth-graders passed a reading proficiency test, up from 27 percent the previous year, while 58 percent passed a writing test, up from 42 percent. Statewide averages for the tests were 58 percent for reading and 78 percent for writing.
Afterward, Bush was heading to St. Louis to visit Moline Elementary School, and to nearby Kirkwood, Mo., to talk to a "tax family" about his plan to cut taxes by $1.6 trillion over 10 years.
The president's travels lay the groundwork for the budget and tax-cutting proposals he will present to Congress on Feb. 27. He is likely to prevail in the House, where Republicans have a 10-seat majority. But he still is not certain of the necessary votes in the Senate, where two Republicans have announced their opposition, saying it is too big and tilted too heavily toward the rich.
Bush hopes to curry support among Americans who polls say are in favor of reducing taxes but do not want those reductions to come at the expense of popular government programs such as aid to education and debt reduction.
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