Gore has proposed a tax system that employs the same scam. It theoretically provides a lot of tax relief if anyone could figure out how to qualify and was willing to behave accordingly. But in all probability, almost no "working family" will be able to ascertain exactly which hoops it must jump through to be eligible for Gore's precious tax rebates. No liberal ever gives up government revenue that easily.
The last time the government adopted the snake-oil methods of the private sector was when FDR decided to mimic the pay-as-you-go plans in the retail context, and we ended up with a withholding tax. For the first time, instead of writing a single whopping check to the federal government once a year, workers began to have relatively small amounts lifted from their paychecks each week precisely so they wouldn't be as likely to notice that they were being fleeced.
Federal income taxes have risen astronomically since the payroll tax innovation. For the record, a federal appeals court once ruled some such payment plans "unconscionable" in the private sector.
Even those few intrepid citizens who attempt to apply for one of Gore's byzantine tax credits will have to engage in desirable liberal behaviors in order to qualify. The government will fork over a puny tax credit only if, for example, the "working family" has children, and if the mothers in these "working families" agree to abandon their children to socialist, industrialized day-care centers. No sending the kids to grandma.
Last week George W. Bush campaigned with a genuine working family that would receive a $1,600 tax cut under Bush and no tax cut under Gore. The husband supports his wife and two children on a $40,000 salary as a high school teacher.
The Gore campaign responded by saying that the family might be able to cut its taxes even more under Gore's "targeted" tax-cut plan -- provided the family engaged in certain behaviors that would trigger Gore's tax cuts, such as putting the children in day care. The Gore campaign really said that.
Gore vowed in his convention speech to "fight for tax cuts that go to the right people." Surprisingly enough, the "right people" are the ones who make up the largest voting blocs. As commentator Joe Sobran says, it takes a lot of clout to be a victim. The "right people" this election cycle, it seems, are people with children, earning a governmentally approved low income -- and who are stupid enough to fall for the "rebate!" "money-back guarantee!" claims in Gore's tax plan.
This is one more step toward the government using the Internal Revenue Code not just to raise revenue, but also to influence lifestyle choices. Tax credits constitute pure wealth transfers from people who do not live according to the dictates of the federal government's lifestyle choices to those who do. (You can be sure that sending one's child to Bob Jones University will not merit a college tax credit.)
Assuming it is any of the government's business whether an American citizen wants to drop out and sell T-shirts at Phish concerts or move to the suburbs and raise 2.5 children (duly placed in government-licensed child-care centers), what other behaviors are to be encouraged? Recycling? Tolerance classes? Renting extra bedrooms to allegedly discriminated-against groups?
Even before the country got a bird's-eye view of Bill Clinton's lifestyle choices, it ought to have been obvious that politicians are the last people anyone should want making lifestyle choices for them. Look what they've done with their lives.