Donald Lambro

That view was further underscored in Senate testimony last week by Gen. John P. Abizaid, the American military commander for the Middle East, who said withdrawal would result in an increase in sectarian killings and undermine Iraq's ability to provide for its own security.

One of the Democrats' major campaign promises is to raise the federal minimum wage to more than $7 an hour, but small-business lobbies are already gearing up to battle the proposal they say would hurt smaller enterprises that have been the engine of job growth in the United States.

This would be a job killer, plain and simple. If it became law, millions of small businesses would find ways to trim their employment force, reducing the number of entry-level jobs that are critical to helping people get on the first rung of the economic ladder.

The businesses most severely hurt would be the younger start-ups that are still struggling to get established and that have not built up their payroll capacity to the much higher levels the Democrats would mandate by legislative fiat. Economist John Cogan at the Hoover Institution said, "This would hurt small businesses, especially in the South" where wages tend to be lower than in other regions of the country. But Cogan thinks the Democrats' plan would face numerous hurdles in Congress and very possibly from Democrats themselves, particularly in the Senate.

"There will be Democrats who don't want to stick it to small business," Cogan told me.

Democrats also hope to repeal the capital-gains and stock-dividend tax cuts that Republicans passed and President Bush signed into law, reforms that unlocked needed venture-capital investment that created jobs, lifted the stock market to record levels and boosted worker pension wealth.

Hundreds of companies have begun offering dividends as a result of the GOP's pro-growth initiative, and the lower tax rate on capital gains has made it more profitable to sell stock, spawning increased tax revenue that has helped to shrink federal- and state-budget deficits.

If Democrats vote to raise taxes on capital gains and dividends, they are going to encounter fierce opposition from two powerful constituencies, many of whom voted for them on Nov. 7: Millions of retirees and those soon to retire who depend on a lifetime of stock investments for their income; and the financial industry and investors who have plowed larger capital gains into new investment opportunities, boosting the nation's economy in the process.

The Democrats' campaign mantra that it's time for a change apparently appealed to a lot of dissatisfied Americans. But once these voters learn the fine print in the Democrats' plans, many may begin to think this wasn't the change they had in mind.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.