Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The Merry Pranksters Ride Again

Treasury Secretary Snowe, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, and Labor Secretary Chao recently embarked on a bus tour through Wisconsin, a key swing state, at taxpayer expense. If Bush is going to send out his team of lie-by-numbers artists to dupe the population, he should at least pay for it out of his enormous, unused, primary season war-chest.

Luckily, the Secretaries of Bushonomics weren't alone on their tour. Some concerned citizens, who, according the DLC, are part of the activist elite and not real Democrats, turned out to keep things honest.

Patti Mohr of Tax Notes writes:

The Fair Taxes for All Coalition organized a grassroots movement to shadow the cabinet officials' tour and to protest Bush's policies. The group called itself the "Read Bush's Lips . . . NO NEW JOBS" tour and claimed it had hundreds of protestors signed up to participate (although press reports suggested the group consisted of a small band of protestors). Individuals included unemployed workers and members low-income families who will not receive child credit checks.

The group highlighted the jobless rate as well as deficit figures as evidence that Bush's tax cuts have helped only wealthy investors. "We can see [the tax cuts] aren't working, and we know that our children will be stuck with the bill," said Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way and cochair of the Fair Taxes for All Coalition. "Bush administration officials can run from rally to rally, but they can't hide the administration's terrible economic record," he said.

Our children will be stuck with the bill... yes, that's really what it's about. The crux of the difference between the current "frontrunners" is right there. Kerry and Lieberman have both criticized Dean's intention, though oddly not Gephardt's except by implication, to repeal most, if not all, of Bush's tax cuts.

Most people recognize that we need a vibrant and sound economy to make a living, and the fiscal stablity and security that health care for everyone provides. Those things aren't possible while sporting the monstrous rotting albatross of debt Bush has hung around our necks. We need to eliminate that deficit much more than any of us need the crumbs of tax relief which Bush brushed off the plate of the wealthy for us once they finished gorging themselves. None of those criticizing Dean for calling for a repeal explain how they are going to accomplish their goals without ending up contributing to the deficit instead of elminating it.

John Kerry said "the new Bush tax cuts make no economic sense" while decrying the deficit. Yet he wants to keep the earlier cuts that helped put us there and still finance a massive public works effort for a short term demand-led stimulus? Joe Lieberman also derides "the unfair, unaffordable, and ineffective Bush tax cuts."

Perhaps Kerry, like Dean, hopes to strike a balance in repealing the tax cuts; eliminating the deficit while keeping the most beneficial portions of the cuts to economic growth, middle class tax relief, and tax fairness. But unlike Dean, he is not willing to say that he will do everything that it takes to get us out of the monstrous hole W dug. Lieberman however, while criticizing Bush's tax cuts efficacy at creating jobs, quixotically proposes his own tax cuts to create jobs. "We need a real growth strategy that cuts taxes to create jobs, invests in education and innovation, and brings down the deficit." You have to give him credit, at least he mentioned the deficit... last. But cutting taxes to bring down the deficit? That sounds familiar... oh yes, Dick Cheney claimed that "the President's [tax cut] package will generate new growth, it will expand the tax base, and thus increase tax revenue." Sounds like the self-financing tax cuts of the laughable Laffer curve are back... on the talking points of the DLC via Joe Lieberman.

To be fair to Joe, I will be the first to concede that Bush could not have designed his tax cuts any worse to be job creators if he tried; Joe would certainly do better. But most, if not all, stimulative effect they have would be buried under the countervailing saving disincentives of the deficit, much as Bush's stimulation is hidden under the weight of his deficit. Until the deficit is eliminated, tax cuts are just another way for government to redistribute the wealth. Dean gets it, Gephardt might, Kerry, and especially Lieberman, evidently don't.

Dean does not propose to eliminate all of the cuts any more than does Kerry or Lieberman, he is just more realistic about the likely need to eliminate most of them. That is not walking away from the middle class, that is saying honestly what your priorities are and how you propose to pursue them. Bush still has well over a year left in office, who can say how much more damage he will do? He has vowed to pass a tax cut every year which he was in office and the Democrats probably won't be able to stop him. There is likely to be alot more tax cuts which need repealing before we're done.

You can be sure that Bush will be as kind as his cussed nature allows to the middle class with this next tax cut. It will be time for an election year bribe. I think the taxpayers have enough common sense to tell him to go piss in the wind and take his tax cut with him. But will Kerry or Lieberman have the guts to tell people to reject the cuts if they're still in the race; will they say that, if elected, the first thing they'll do is repeal them? My guess is the word "pander" will be heard frequently. Anything other than outright and vehement rejection of any more tax cuts is political suicide for the Democratic party. If we concede Bush's implicit suggestion that we can live on credit indefinitely, we have lost the race. And we will have deserved to.


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