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Don’t fall for this tripe from Democratic senators and milquetoast Republicans that they are opposing President Bush’s tax cut plan for reasons of fiscal restraint. Shame on all of them.

Three renegade Republican senators joined with all Senate Democrats (except that great patriot Zel Miller) to dilute President Bush’s already modest tax cut proposal from $1.6 trillion to $1.15 trillion.

A triumphant Democratic Sen. Daschle declared Bush’s “original proposal” dead. Daschle’s purpose was not simply to emasculate Bush’s plan and substitute his party’s weaker alternative. That was just the first step. I know that because I listened carefully to Daschle’s words and Sen. Breaux’s.

Daschle called on the administration to begin negotiating with Democrats on structuring a new plan. Breaux added, “They realize now is the time for serious negotiations.” You see, they’ve only just begun.

Republican defectors, Arlen Specter, Pa., Lincoln Chafee, R.I., and James Jeffords, Vt., better be prepared to accept responsibility for emboldening the Democratic leadership to further gut Bush’s plan. And the rest of us ought to make sure they are held accountable. More on that later.

Daschle has successfully lured these Republican senators away by one of the oldest tricks in the book: divide and conquer. Daschle appealed to their special legislative interests to get them to break ranks, primarily greater funding for education. I suppose George Bush’s proposed increase of 11 plus percent in education spending was not enough to satisfy them.

Proponents of the amendment to reduce Bush’s bill by $450 billion propose to spend an additional $225 billion on education and $225 billion toward reducing the national debt. Does anyone really believe these liberal senators have any intention of applying that money to the debt?

Beyond that, it’s ridiculous for these senators to continue treating tax cuts as a zero-sum game. History has proven that marginal income tax rate reductions stimulate revenues. Credible sources conservatively project that Bush’s tax proposal could generate as much as $600 billion in additional revenues, which would make the net “cost” of his plan approximately $1 trillion, instead of $1.6 trillion.

But the class warriors insist on eroding or eliminating the rate reductions for the highest income producers. As you might have suspected, the higher brackets are where you generate the most additional supply-side revenue. So by reducing the tax cut by $450 billion, the tax and spenders may not be saving a nickel of net revenue.

As for the additional allocations for education, why isn’t anyone calling the obstructionists on the carpet about the recent revelations concerning waste in the Education Department? Can someone please remind these paragons of fiscal restraint that federal investigators have just reported unprecedented fraud in the Department of Education?

Inspector General Lorraine Lewis told a House committee that “No one could ever give you a total number of how much fraud has occurred … (but) about $100 million worth of recent fraud has been identified.” Add to that another $250 million of duplicate expenditures that were made in error. The IG, by the way, blamed most of these “problems” on the Education Department’s incompetent financial accounting system, which Clinton implemented at a cost to taxpayers of $5 million.

The three Daschle-enabling Republican senators are doubtless maintaining that they are putting principle and the national interest above their party’s interests. Oh? Can you tell me then, Sens. Jeffords, Chafee and Specter, what principles and interests those might be?

Is the federal government not already spending enough on education? Has the education department demonstrated its worthiness to receive billions more in funding it can waste? Does the national interest dictate that you gut the tax plan so that you not only punish the highest producers, but you also reduce the growth and revenue generating features of the plan as well?

I don’t think the national interest or any lofty principles are motivating these senators any more than some arcane Scottish law prompted Sen. Specter to vote against convicting President Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial. Rather, it appears to be raw politics — the base appeal to their eastern liberal elite constituencies. The truth is that by abandoning the party, these senators are assisting Daschle et al. in harming the national interest.

In view of these recent developments I have become ever more appreciative of Stephen Moore’s Club for Growth, which targets for defeat politicians who obstruct pro-growth capitalism. I hope the club will take a long hard look at these three defectors.

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