Some big bankers are pulling high-level strings to get help with their real estate problems.

When Fleet/Norstar Financial Group chairman J. Terrence Murray, Manufacturers Hanover Corp. chairman John McGillicuddy, and some other bankers met with President Bush last month, they suggested that any tax bill proposed by the White House should contain incentives to help banks and the government whittle their portfolios of bad and foreclosed real estate.

Mr. Murray said no specific suggestions were made, but he added that Congress might consider "goodies" such as investment tax credits for long-term buyers, passive loss recognition against ordinary income, and rapid depreciation. "You could even restrict it to foreclosed property, but you've got to move the stuff off the shelf," he said in an interview.

Congress and the White House, for their part, are considering the politically attractive alternative of tax breaks for middle-income Americans.

"We don't have a specific formula," Mr. Murray said, but some real estate tax incentive is "more attractive than 300 bucks for each family in America."

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