Seven Republican congressmen on the House tax-writing committee are prepared to block any attempt by the Bush administration to scale back the mortgage interest deduction and eliminate the deduction for property taxes, according to Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill.Rep. Weller warned that those recommendations by the president's tax reform panel would be "dead on arrival" if the Bush administration endorses them and sends them up to the House Ways and Means Committee as a legislative proposal. Rep. Weller made his remarks at a press briefing arranged by the National Association of Home Builders. In a letter to President Bush, Rep. Weller and his six colleagues point out that 37 million American families use the mortgage interest deduction and half of those families earn $75,000 or less annually. "That is why we urge you to preserve the deductions for mortgage and home equity interest, and state and local taxes, which underpin homeownership and the social and economic benefits it generates," the letter says. Meanwhile, a nationwide poll commissioned by the NAHB found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of 800 likely voters said it is important to keep the mortgage interest deduction in the tax code. "It doesn't sound like the American people agree with the tax panel," NAHB chief executive Jerry Howard said. "Or maybe it appears the tax panel is out of touch with the American people."

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