February 17, 2006

Bush: Mortgage deduction to stay a part of tax law

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on
Friday rejected the idea of any change in the U.S. tax code
that would eliminate the deduction for mortgage interest.

During a question-and-answer session in Florida, Bush was
urged by a home owner to make sure that housing remains

"Maybe you're hinting at whether or not the mortgage
deduction would be part of a plan," Bush responded. "I don't
think you have to worry about the mortgage deduction not being
a part of the income-tax law."

A panel appointed by Bush last year recommended reducing
the tax deduction for mortgage interest as part of a larger
plan to simplify the tax code.

Bush, who has called the tax code a complicated mess, is
having the Treasury Department review the panel's

But the White House, which had initially considered rolling
out a plan this year on tax simplification, has delayed that
initiative. Some Republicans have said some of the
recommendations from the panel, such as the one on mortgage
interest, might generate too much controversy, especially in
the current congressional election year.

Referring to concerns the builder had raised about interest
rates, Bush said, "You'll be happy to hear I don't set interest

He went on to praise new Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke. However, he added, "If I were you I'd be worried
about interest rates."