During the House debate in early March on the first round of the Bush tax cuts, Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas stood up on the House floor and tried to revise history. "Mr. Speaker," said DeLay, "I have to say, that the Democrat leadership has no credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility. They are the ones that were in charge and who drove up the debt. They point to Reaganomics as the reason for the debt going up, but what they do not point out is that ... the Democrat-controlled House drove spending up... . It is spending, stupid. It is spending that creates the deficit."
Well, that's an interesting fable. But it has nothing to do with what really happened back in the 1980s.
By the time you read this, we may have a new balance of power in Washington. If Democrats have the upper hand, we can worry that they'll continue the Clinton-Gore push to make the tax code more complicated--albeit a bit more progressive, too. If the Republicans are in the driver's seat, then it appears that tax cuts targeted to the rich will be at the top of the agenda.
Neither vision is attractive to those of us who believe in a fair, straightforward tax system. But whichever party is in charge, perhaps it can be persuaded to amend the details of its presidential candidate's campaign tax promises without sacrificing the basic themes.
When Abraham Lincoln faced the dissolution of the nation in the early 1860s, he imposed new taxes on the wealthy to help pay to save the Union. When Franklin D. Roosevelt took America to war against the Nazis, he sharply increased taxes on businesses and the rich to help fund that crusade. Now George W. Bush is leading a new battle against international terrorism, and insists that as part of that effort, we need to cut taxes on corporations and the best-off Americans!
"For lower-income families, my tax plan restores basic fairness," President
George W. Bush asserted in his address to Congress on February 27. "People with
the smallest incomes will get the highest percentage of reductions."
To help us understand what the president meant, here's some interesting data
from The Washington Post business section of March 13. What follows are
captions that ran under photos of the CEOs of Apple Computer and of IBM.