President Bush said he is mulling the possibility of simplifying the corporate tax system, as long as the changes don't affect the amount of taxes the government collects.

"Anything submitted to Congress, if submitted at all, would have to be revenue-neutral," he said.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson convened a conference last month in which he proposed a cut in corporate taxes to make the United States more competitive with other industrialized countries (see Treasury Secretary Favors Corporate Tax Cut).

Bush said it would be possible to lower the overall corporate tax rate in conjunction with a simplification that would get rid of some deductions. However, he emphasized that the administration is still in the early stages of discussion on the matter. He is opposed to any hike in federal gasoline taxes to pay for repairs to roads and bridges in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

"Before we raise taxes, which could affect economic growth, I would strongly urge the Congress to examine how they set priorities," he said.

Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., chairman of the House Transportation Committee, has proposed raising the 18.3 cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax by a nickel to create a trust fund for repairing aging and dilapidated highway bridges.

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