Let me offer my Democratic friends some friendly advice: They will never win the presidency or regain control of the Congress by campaigning to raise taxes, tariffs and special-interest subsidies while opposing a foreign policy that seeks to expand liberal democracy in the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world.
Sen. Zell Miller says it best in his new book, "A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat": The current batch of Democratic presidential hopefuls have managed to combine the foreign policy of George McGovern with the tax policies of Walter Mondale, a prescription for disaster for the Democratic Party.
America is a 50/50 nation politically. A Democratic candidate with an ounce of economic sense could become fiercely competitive by putting together a John Kennedy-style economic program based on broad-based economic growth and prosperity for all. The Democrats could devise a 21st century JFK Democratic supply-side economic program without alienating their Democratic base.
The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals two significant facts. First, four out of 10 Democratic voters are tired of the partisanship and demand that their leaders compromise more with the Bush administration. Second, 42 percent of Democratic respondents want to put a Democrat in the White House so badly that they say they would prefer a nominee who is able to defeat Bush even if the candidate diverges considerably from their position on policy matters. This is a license to go fishing for Republican and Independent voters.
With the right lure and some JFK supply-side bait, the Democratic candidates could net the votes they need by fishing in Republican waters where some of the most ardent supporters of the president's economic program are also the most skeptical of U.S. foreign policy. The place to start with simplification would be the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is a perfect illustration of how tax policy aimed at the so-called rich always ends up hitting low- and middle-class people the hardest.
The AMT has gotten so perverse that it requires some single taxpayers earning as little as $24,500 to calculate their taxes a second time by a second set of rules if their tax bill calculated under the rules that apply to everyone else is too small. In the second round of tax calculations, the taxpayer is denied legitimate deductions, such as deductions for retirement accounts, state and local taxes, the child tax credit and even indexing that protects against inflation-induced bracket creep. No wonder voters don't buy the soak-the-rich rhetoric.
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