Senator Daschle's partisan tattoo

Posted: Jan 09, 2002 12:00 AM
Senate Majority Leader Daschle, the man who has done everything in his power to obstruct President Bush’s domestic agenda, had the effrontery to say that Bush was ignoring domestic issues. This guy’s motive to stall the economy couldn’t be more transparent if he were wearing a see-through shirt and had the words "Block Bush tax bill, and win Democrat seats in 2002" tattooed to his chest. President Bush has been consistent on the economic issues from the beginning. During the campaign he said that we needed tax cuts not only to restore the people’s money to its rightful owners, but also to preserve economic growth. Then shortly after he was elected, he warned that the economy was faltering and that fiscal action needed to be taken. The Democrats feigned outrage that the president-elect would badmouth the economy and thereby further damage it by undermining the people’s confidence. But Bush was right about the economy, which was on the verge of a recession when he took office and which was made worse by the September 11 attacks. That’s why Bush and his Republican colleagues have been trying desperately to accelerate the implementation of the tax cut plan -- to stimulate the supply side of our economy. Instead of heeding his own admonition that "No amount of hot rhetoric will get the economy back on track," Senator Daschle said that President Bush’s tax cuts, only a small part of which have been implemented, are responsible for the recession. Bush, he said, precipitated the "most dramatic fiscal deterioration in our nation’s history" by pushing through the 10-year tax cut last year. Even Daschle’s colleague, Senator Feinstein, isn’t letting him get away with this canard. "Over a trillion dollars of that tax cut has not yet gone into effect. The impact of the tax cut has not yet been felt, so I don’t think it worsens the recession at all," she told CNN. Daschle’s assertion also conveniently ignores that the recession began before any of the tax cuts went into effect and the devastating economic impact of Sept. 11. More importantly, it ignores common sense and history, which say that tax cuts, especially modest and largely deferred ones, are not likely to retard the economy. Mr. Daschle accuses Bush of failing to use fiscal discipline. And what is his prescription for the ailing economy? He would: -- redistribute money to lower income earners or non-earners, the people most likely to vote for him and his fellow Democrats. -- increase spending on homeland security. What might that have to do with improving the economy unless you are still caught in a Keynesian time warp and believe that the best way to jump start the economy is for the government to spend money it doesn’t have? -- increase spending on job training and education. Doesn’t it comfort you to know that the leader of the minority party believes that government bureaucrats training people in the art of work is a central component of job creation? -- block Bush’s plan allowing people to become less dependent on government by choosing to invest a percentage of their Social Security in private funds. -- further socialize health care. As you can see, Senator Daschle’s idea of fiscal discipline is for the government to increase spending in a variety of areas without suggesting any way to pay for it. As the National Taxpayers Union correctly observes, "Daschle’s call for expansion of federal spending makes a mockery of his call for "restoring fiscal discipline." It is amazing that Senator Daschle is the one out front making accusations, when, for partisan reasons, he has single-handedly blocked action designed to resuscitate the economy. But a couple of good things have come out of his outbursts. First, it is enormously helpful that Daschle has come out of the closet and bared his chest so that everyone can see his partisan tattoo. Up until now he has been masquerading as a man of goodwill and compromise. Second, it looks like Daschle has finally provoked President Bush into fighting back in this unprovoked domestic war. President Bush is beginning to use his enormous popularity and his powerful bully pulpit to engage the obstructionist opposition party. And he is making a proper connection between domestic and foreign policy, by relabeling the "economic stimulus plan," the "economic security plan." I wonder if Daschle understands that he’s pushed it one step too far by convincing Bush to quit turning the other cheek and return an eye for an eye?