The words emblazoned on millions of tax refund checks the government is sending out read a lot like a Republican political slogan to the head of the Democratic National Committee.
The checks for up to $300 for individuals, $500 for heads of households and $600 for married couples filing jointly include this upbeat phrase: "Tax relief for America's workers."
Over the next nine weeks, the Treasury Department will mail out 92 million of those checks, refunding $38 billion to taxpayers in the first installment of President Bush's 10-year, $1.35-trillion tax cut.
DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday called the wording a "Republican campaign slogan" and questioned whether it belongs on U.S. government checks.
"The federal government is not a toy, and checks from the U.S. Treasury should not be used as political props," McAuliffe said in a statement.
McAuliffe's objections marked the latest political battle over the tax refund checks and previous notices mailed to taxpayers describing the details. Those earlier notices, which prominently mentioned Congress and Bush, triggered heavy Democratic criticism and attempts to deduct the money to pay printing and mailing costs.
Treasury Department officials made the decision to include the wording, which spokeswoman Tara Bradshaw defended as necessary to remind taxpayers of why they are getting the refund. Taxpayers, she said, need "an appropriate explanation of the check's purpose so recipients can distinguish this from other federal payments," such as regularly scheduled Social Security checks, veterans' benefits and railroad retirement checks.
Republicans say Democrats are desperate to undermine the validity of the checks and the overall tax cut.