"No one in America should have to pay more than a third of their income to the federal government." -- Gov. George W. Bush at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, Pa., on Aug. 3, 2000
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- You had to be here this week to get the full flavor of what's happening to liberals in Washington. The Bush-Cheney administration is on message, on a roll, and has the crowd that trashed the White House and pillaged Air Force One on the run.
In spite of the perverted pardons and other controversies of their predecessors, a crazed gunman outside the White House and the carping critics at the Democrat National Committee, they have kept a smile on their face, a bounce in their step and stuck to the game plan of introducing a new initiative a week. It's driving the left fringe of American politics positively nuts.
At the start of his third week in office, George W. Bush chose the eve of Ronald Reagan's 90th birthday to introduce his promised $1.6 billion tax cut package. It's a plan that would make the 40th president, were he not suffering the ravages of Alzheimer's and recovering from a broken hip, proud of his successor's son. And it comes not a moment too soon, for the economy Bill Clinton left behind is running out of juice faster than a California power plant.
News of massive corporate layoffs are making the front pages on a near-daily basis. In January, more than 142,000 Americans got layoff notices, the highest total in eight years. General Electric Chairman Jack Welch is trying to staunch rumors that the giant conglomerate plans to cut over 75,000 jobs once its $45 billion takeover of Honeywell is finished. Daimler-Chrysler plans to lay off 26,000 auto workers. General Motors is shutting down its Oldsmobile division.
The 400 employees fired by Disney when it decided to pull the plug on its GO.com web site are the most visible of thousands of cyber employees who have recently received pink slips. Lucent Technologies is giving the boot to 16,000 workers and Amazon.com is "downsizing" by 1,300. Media leviathan AOL/Time Warner, most U.S. financial institutions and scores of retailers are shrinking along with consumer confidence. About the only sectors of the economy that are headed up are energy costs and unemployment -- the former has risen more than 15 percent in recent months and the latter has spiked to 4.2 percent -- the highest jobless rate in 16 months. It's likely that both will get worse before they get better.
Apologists for the White House furniture thieves used to crow that cautious Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan could handle any economic anomalies by tweaking interest rates. But two rate cuts in one month totaling a whole percentage point and the prospect of another quarter-point reduction in the days ahead have failed to slow the downward spiral.
By now reality should be dawning on even the most committed liberal. The federal government is confiscating trillions of dollars more than it is allowed to spend -- thus the "budget surplus." The economy is contracting rapidly. You don't have to be an economist to understand that leaving more disposable income in the hands of American consumers will help keep us out of a full blown, gut wrenching, recession. And common sense tells us -- just like it told Ronald Reagan -- that the fastest way to a bigger paycheck is to give every worker a sizable, immediate tax cut.
But instead of a reasonable dialog on how much and how fast we can cut taxes, the Democrat leadership appears poised to throw themselves on their swords in a final paroxysm of political pique. The day President Bush announced his plan to retroactively cut tax rates for every citizen who pays taxes, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) derided the plan as unfair to "working Americans," and added that he does "not want to repeat the mistakes of 1981."
Within hours, his thoughts, such as they were, were echoed by House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO). Both Daschle and Gephardt, and their class-warfare cronies evidently want us to believe that people currently paying 39.6 percent of their income in taxes aren't "working Americans." Since both men also voted for the retroactive Clinton-Gore tax increase in 1993 -- the largest in U.S. history -- do they now advocate another tax increase to help stave off recession?
Meanwhile, Terry McAuliffe, the new chairman of the Democrat National Committee, Paul Begala, James Carville, Doug Hattaway and their ilk continue to shriek themselves into irrelevancy about what did or didn't happen in Florida last Nov. 7. They just don't get it. The American people have moved on. They are looking forward, not back. The American people need, want and deserve the tax breaks that President Bush has proposed. The leadership of the left can whine if they want, but if they insist on ignoring reality, they ought to change their mascot from the donkey to the ostrich.