Suppose you're the chief economic adviser to George W. Bush. For the past five months, you've been telling the public and your boss that his tax cut plan will cost $1.3 trillion over 10 years. How do you deal with the fact that your figure is arithmetically impossible? And more important, how do you counter Al Gore's widely reported claim that the Bush tax plan will cost more than $2 trillion over 10 years?
Having attacked the liberal accomplishments of the Great Society and New Deal, congressional Republicans are preparing to eliminate a reform that stretches even further back into history: the progressive income tax. Republicans in both houses of Congress have introduced plans for a flat tax, claiming that its simplicity and fairness will be a boon to all. Majority Leader Dick Armey, presenting his plan, states that "millions of taxpayers are taken off the rolls entirely, and middle Americans receive a tax cut."
In a letter to the Washington Post on October 29, the Cato Institute's
fiscal-policy director, Chris Edwards, wrote to urge the repeal of the corporate
minimum tax. His central argument was that three of the companies that would get
the biggest rebates, IBM, General Motors, and General Electric, are way overtaxed
now. Indeed, he claimed, these companies paid "an enormous $3.4 billion, $1
billion and $5.7 billion, respectively," in federal income taxes last year.
Conservative Republican strategists are hopping mad at Kevin Phillips. For years, they have embraced (with much success) the notion outlined by Phillips in his 1969 book, The Emerging Republican Majority, that middle-class voters could be wooed by running against the poor. But now, Phillips seems to have deserted his erstwhile allies. In his latest book, The Politics of Rich and Poor, Phillips advances an opposing populist theme that can be embraced only by Democrats: the idea of running against the rich.