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The Republican party forked over a lot of dough recently to run a
full page ad in USA Today in order to tell the nation its members
are ready to put the impeachment process behind and begin working with
William Jefferson Clinton to secure “a bright future” for the nation.
That open letter stated several goals including allowing working
people “to keep more of what they earn so they can spend and invest it
as they see fit.” Republicans should have kept the money they spent on
this ad in the bank because, on the very day it ran, the Washington
Post ran an article on how party leaders had signaled they are
getting ready to abandon their 10 percent across-the-board tax cut
proposal because of stiff opposition.
Congress was just returning to work after the impeachment vote. The
first round of cards in the new legislative session was landing on the
table, and these Republican leaders couldn’t wait to send a message that
they were getting ready to fold. An aide to Speaker Denny Hastert was
quoted as saying, “Our enthusiasm (for the across-the-board tax cut) is
tempered by the reality of how hard it is to get it all done.”
The Post pointed out that the leadership not only faces strong
resistance from the Democrats, but from some 15 members within its own
ranks who think the plan is too costly and politically risky. Too
costly? Republicans started out the year looking at a 30 percent tax cut
and whittled it down to 10 percent. Economists Gary and Aldona Robbins
of Fiscal Associates and the Institution for Policy Innovation put this
in perspective. If you are an average wage-earner in the 28 percent or
31 percent federal tax bracket, a 10 percent tax cut would mean that you
would be keeping an extra cent to cent and a half on every dollar you
earn. Now that’s what I call too costly! Of course it is too costly if
you’re not committed to shrinking government.
What they are saying is that government can do a better job spending
your money than you can. Last year our government spent $15 million on
helium because back in the days of blimps, somebody thought it would be
of strategic importance in the case of war, so we started stockpiling
this stuff. Rep. Chris Cox finally got a bill passed to phase out this
little bureaucracy, but it won’t be gone for another 16 years. That’s a
lot of money down the drain for hot air.
Now our representatives want to make the case for stockpiling our
money with the promise that they will use it eventually to save Social
Security. You know you can trust them to do that, right? Republicans
should make good on their promise to shrink government and develop the
plan to save Social Security. Once that is done, if more tax dollars
are needed they can make a case for it. Until that is accomplished,
however, give this surplus money back to its rightful owners.
It is clear that Republican leaders are more concerned about
apologizing for the impeachment and getting along with Democrats than
they are about making the case for the tax cut or any of the other basic
principles they’ve signed onto, even to members of their own ranks.
That’s not leadership.