The Democrats control the U.S. Senate, but otherwise, they now find themselves in the national minority, a position to which they are unaccustomed and which they clearly believe must be some kind of mistake. (George W. Bush won how many rural counties? Did anyone know there were that many rural counties?)
So imagine the Democrats' chagrin when the President's popular approval ratings soared above 90 percent in response to his calm but forceful military response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
I ask you, is it fair that this Republican newcomer should get credit just because his actions have actually stopped the terrorists in their tracks, while his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, gets no credit at all for responding to the mustitude of escalating terror attacks on his watch by refusing to give our boys in Somalia the armor they needed, while encouraging Osama bin Laden's cronies to believe we were weak and decadent by limiting his response to a few cruise missiles lobbed at a pharmaceutical factory and an empty Afghan sheep camp?
But then, as though their foreign policy triumphs weren't enough, the GOP-controlled US House of Representatives threatened to seize the initiative on on the domestic front as well, responding to the incipient recession with an "economic stimulus" package full of across-the-board tax cuts which might actually work, helping both the economy and the Republican Party. Now you'll begin to sense the seriousness of the problem faced by Democratic-Party politicians.
So Senator Daschle and his Democratic collegues squealed that the stimulus package, with all those tax cuts contained therein, would pass over their dead bodies. The Democrats claim that tax cuts are "giveaways to the rich" (those being the people who pay the most taxes.)
What did the sneaky Republicans do then? Why, they removed the tax cuts as requested.
So Senator Daschle and his Democrats next squealed that an economic stimulus package would pass over their dead bodies, unless the GOP agreed to lard it up with a whole new Santa Claus list of boondoggle spending. When obligingly granted even that Christmas wish, Senator Daschle and his colleagues were finally reduced to crossing their arms, jutting their jaws, and announcing the stimulus package would never be allowed to come to a vote no matter what, lest it garner enough Democratic votes to--you know, pass.
And what has happened to poor Senator Daschle now? Apparently stung by criticism that his performance on the stimulus package revealed him to be an "obstructionist," he's run to the Democratic focus groups to come up with a counterattack, and has been advised to blame the tiny tax cuts won by President Bush last Spring for "wiping out the surplus."
The tax cuts have "probably made the recession worse" by driving up interest rates, Senator Daschle said in a speech Friday, January 4.
Those being the same interest rates that are now at historic lows? Please ignore the little man behind the curtain.
Republicans, who, at the Democratic Senator's request, dropped most of the tax cuts from the Republican economic stimulus package, "have one unchanging, unyielding solution they offer for every problem: tax cuts that go disproportionately to the most affluent," says Senator Daschle, beating the Democrats' unchanging 'hate the rich" jungle drum. Why, he even managed Friday to claim that GOP tax policy might require him to "raid the Social Security surplus and borrow money to pay for ... critical needs," like putting non-citizen airport security checkers on the unionized federal payroll.
At the same time he criticized GOP tax cuts, however, Senator Daschle somewhat contradictorily offered his own convoluted "tax credit" proposal for companies that create new jobs, though without quite explaining how that scheme would avoid aiding "the most affluent" business owners.
"Senator Daschle once again takes the side of tax collectors rather than taxpayers," notes Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute. "'Low interest rates,' Daschle claims, 'are the best possible tax cut.' But interest rates do not rise and fall with the U.S. Budget. That is simply a hoax. Japan has the world's lowest interest rates and the world's biggest budget defict. Besides, if taxes were less onerous, American families and firms would not have to borrow so much."
Anyway, it was President Bush who worked to hold the growth of federal spending to a still-hefty 4 percent last year (needless to say, any real Conservative would feel obliged to trim federal spending at least in half). It was squealing Democrats who wanted federal spending to grow by something closer to 10 percent.
Real tax collections have never been higher. Even if we bought the claims of "surplus" in the first place (they kept right on selling Treasury bills--who would continue to borrow if they had a surplus?), it's Democrat-driven spending that threatens to put the federal government back into the red.
Perhaps what the Democrats need is a Senate Majority Leader less fearful of setting forth their true agenda. One nominee comes quickly to mind. Freshman U.S. Senator Hillary went on New York television last month and called not just for the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, but for actual federal tax rate hikes.
Now there's a true Democrat.
More on American Government & the U.S. Presidency
More on Taxation & Government Spending
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW- JOURNAL.
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