Inside Report: Capital gains and Democratic defect

Posted: Mar 18, 2001 12:00 AM
Lawrence Lindsey, chief architect of the Bush tax plan, has privately--and literally--flashed a thumbs up to an expansion of the president's proposal to encourage investment. Officially, National Economic Adviser Lindsey has reiterated President Bush's insistence that his level of tax reductions are just right and should not change. But when one prominent supply-sider visited him and proposed capital gains tax cuts, Lindsey smiled and raised one thumb. A footnote: Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia, the Senate's only avowed Democratic supporter of Bush's plan, is privately predicting that five other defectors will join him eventually. Goodbye, Bill Democratic campaign operatives, far from being dismayed, are relieved by reports from champion political fund-raiser Bill Clinton that he will not raise money for the party in the 2002 election cycle. Party insiders say the former president's ability to solicit campaign contributions has been diminished by the pardon controversy. Whatever funds he could raise, they add, could not compensate for the negative image of Clinton the money-raiser. That puts the financial responsibility for next year's election in the hands of Terry McAuliffe, Clinton's handpicked Democratic national chairman. Many party operatives fear Washington-based financier McAuliffe's famed fund-raising ability will be undermined by his close Clinton association. Labor divided Big Labor has been unusually restrained in criticizing President Bush's intervention in a potential strike of Northwest Airlines by mechanics because the union representing them is not part of the AFL-CIO. The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association displaced the AFL-CIO's International Association of Machinists as bargaining agent for Northwest mechanics, and seeks to move in at other airlines. AMFA and its leader, O.V. Delle-Femine, are regarded at AFL-CIO headquarters as outlaws. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has been uncharacteristically reserved about the Northwest situation and did not show up for AMFA's protest outside the White House March 12. Provoking McCain The fact that Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio opened his House Administration Committee field hearings on campaign finance Saturday in Phoenix was cheered by fellow Republicans as payback against Sen. John McCain of Arizona. McCain has irked GOP colleagues by traveling with his campaign reform co-sponsor, Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, into constituencies of Republicans opposed to their measure. McCain opened his tour in Arkansas, where Republican Sen. Tim Hutchinson faces a tough challenge for re-election in 2002. McCain's aides made it clear they do not appreciate Ney's visit. The congressman's staff ran into trouble pinning down Phoenix City Hall for the hearings, and scheduled Arizona witnesses suddenly dropped out. The hearings were designed by Republican leaders to slow momentum that might land a bill close to McCain-Feingold on President Bush's desk. Global warming skirmish The Bush administration's continuing internal struggle over global warming now includes an effort to name environmental activist Anne Petsonk as an adviser on global warming and the Kyoto treaty. Petsonk, international counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, is a strong supporter of Kyoto. Although President Bush during the 2000 campaign contended that scientists are divided about global warming, Petsonk as early as 1997 was arguing publicly that it was too late for additional research and that action to reduce emissions must be taken immediately. "If we delay," she said in June 1998, "we risk very serious disruption of the Earth's climate." A footnote: Conservative lobbying helped block environmentalist John Turner from becoming deputy secretary of the interior. But his name has reappeared on the list to be assistant secretary of state for oceans and international agreements, a post that would put him in the center of Kyoto negotiations.