"So why should tax cuts take priority over health care? I know the party line: tax cuts for high earners are the key to economic growth, and a rising tide lifts all boats. But there's not a shred of evidence supporting that claim. More than two decades after the supply-siders launched their tax-cut crusade, ordinary workers have yet to see a rising tide. The median real wage is only 7 percent higher now than it was in 1979, with all of that increase achieved after Bill Clinton raised taxes for the top bracket.
"If American families knew what was good for them, then most of them — all but a small, affluent minority — would cheerfully give up their tax cuts in return for a guarantee that health care would be there when needed. And even the affluent might prefer to live in a society where no sick child was left behind."
You would think that such a society would be something we would want to work towards. However it seems a lopsided tax cut fits the poltical agenda much better for Bush. How disappointing.
Unlike the author of this New Republic piece and one of my political science professors here at Kenyon (who may be reading this), I think that terrorism and national security will be the overriding issue in the 2004 presidential race. Terrorism has made American foreign policy a domestic issue. No longer can our outward appearance be independent of our domestic policy. The importance of security for the American people has risen to the top, and I think, will stay there through November 2004.
However, the economy is no doubt a huge issue. While attacking the tax cut has proven difficult for Democrats recently, now that the war is over the time is right for the candidates to outline their plans. Dick Gephardt has done just that. He has a health care plan that is massive, though he seems to have learned from the Clinton debacle of 1994. His plan is quite ambitious and would fill the gaps that threaten the domestic well-being of the poor and disadvantaged. While it may cost a ton to give health care to all but 3% of Americans, his plan shows a compassionate side that the tax-cut-for-the-rich Republican plan sorely lacks.
"[T]he proposal demonstrates the sort [sic] tactical savvy Gephardt has lately been derided for lacking. For one thing, playing health care off against tax cuts is very smart politics. Democrats have been bashing their heads against the wall trying to make the fiscally responsible case against the Bush tax cuts. But budget balance is too abstract a value to motivate voters, particularly at a time when they're worried about lost jobs and falling wages. Health insurance, on the other hand, is something tangible; you can put it alongside the tax cuts, and ask voters to choose."
Which would you rather have, guarenteed health care or a tax cut that will only make things worse? This is a great campaign move by Gephardt and a great plan for America. I hope it helps him jump to the top of the field of Democratic contenders. We could use a compassionate leader again.
It looks like former Illinois governor Jim Edgar is going to run for U.S. Senate to fill the void of Sen. Peter Fitzgerald who said he will not seek reelection. No doubt it won't take much to look better than Fitzgerald, but I have confidence that Edgar would be a great U.S. senator. From what I remember of his time as governor of Illinois from 1991 to 1999, he was a wonderful governor. Maybe it's just in comparison to the horrendous term of George Ryan that followed, but Edgar seemed to be an upstanding governor and an honest man. That's a rare combination in most politicians. Plus he has the experience. That's more than can be said about his possible Democratic opponents:
"Even before Fitzgerald's surprise announcement last week that he would not seek re-election, several Democrats were lining up for a possible challenge to him. They include former Chicago School Board President Gery Chico, investment broker Blair Hull, state Comptroller Daniel Hynes, state Sen. Barack Obama of Chicago and Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas."
School Board presidents should not be running for the U.S. Senate. It's just that simple. While my vote often comes down to ideology, I could not in good conscience vote for an investment banker to represent me in the U.S. Senate. The same conflict led me to my first Republican vote in 2002: When nepotism dominated over experience and Lisa Madigan, just out of law school (!), beat out Joe Birkett, her experienced Republican opponent for Illinois Attorney General, I was frightened at the state of the Illinois electorate. Not only did she defeat Birkett in the general election, but she managed to beat an even more qualified John Schmidt, who had been a prosecutor for something like 30 years in the primary. Sigh.
But anyway, back to the race for the Senate:
Frankly it's a little disappointing that no prominent Democrats have stepped up to seek this seat. Especially with Senate control so tight, an open seat like this should have the DNC sworming from Peoria to Springfield to Chicago. This seems like a seat ripe for the taking for Democrats. It's a shame they lack the will to pursue it effectively.
So, when it comes time to vote between an experienced, honest former governor, and the cook country treasurer, my ideology will lose out to my conscience. Good luck Jim, I hope you win.
I'm glad to see that the Palestinians are making progress towards peace and thus, towards their own state. With the end of the Arafat-Abbas standoff ending with what seems to be a victory for the new palestinian leadership, hopefully the "roadmap" for peace with Israel will be well on its way to being effectively implimented.
With the help of Egyptian government officials, Arafat backed down from his defiant stance. Arafat had opposed the appointment of Abbas' choice to head security. However, the standoff ended when Arafat got his own personal guarantees fulfilled. This seems pretty selfish, but if it gets Arafat to cave, so be it:
"An Egyptian official, said on condition of anonymity that Arafat, in exchange for backing down, was given guarantees regarding his personal safety and was told his personal isolation would end... Arafat also was promised that he would be consulted on major security issues and he would remain in charge of talks with Israel, the Egyptian official said."
Arafat needs to realize that his people will not have a state while he retains control. Not until he surrenders real power to Abbas will the Palestinians have made real progress towards their dream of statehood. As I see it, it's all up to Arafat. The sooner he realizes the truth of the situation, the sooner Palestinians will have true political autonomy.
Back in December we saw the underlying beliefs of the Republican party about African-Americans come out in Trent Lott's longing for 1948. Now it seems that Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania has made the harmful mistake of saying what he really believes about gay people:
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."
Senator, how exactly does that chain of events occur? It seems like a bit of a stretch to me and probably to most decent Americans. There is no slippery slope, never was one.
The spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, David Smith, had this to say about Santorum's comments:
"For the second time in a matter of months, we see a senior Republican leader in the Senate disparaging an entire group of Americans. While we welcome his spokeswoman's clarification that he has no problem with gay people, it's analogous to saying, 'I have no problem with Jewish people or black people, I just don't think they should be equal under the law.' "
It's amazing how we haven't heard anything strongly against this from leading Republicans. The silence is deafening in its message though. It's 'mistakes' like this that show the real beliefs of the Republican party. Hopefully Pennsylvanian voters remember this next time around.
It's a good thing we have the French around to think up brilliant ideas like this. I don't know what we would do without them. I wonder who inspired them...
"Last week, US President George W Bush called for sanctions to be lifted quickly, so that Iraq's oil revenue could be used to finance reconstruction. But the French ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, said the sanctions issue was now linked by past Security Council resolutions to a certification of Iraqi disarmament."
Suddenly France wants to honor past U.N. resolutions. How timely. Before the war began the French explicitly refused to back up the 17 or 18 previous resolutions against Iraq - including the unanimous Resolution 1441 passed just last November which warned Saddam of "serious consequences" if he did not disarm.
How quickly the tide can turn for a nation that, as James Lileks said so brilliantly yesterday, "is like someone who’s been given a glimpse of the future, sees himself committing suicide, and resolves to spend his remaining days making it look like murder."
It has always been clear that Paul Krugman is no fan of the Bush Administration. It seems that no matter what the issue is, Krugman has a column attacking the President the next day. However, his article today gets to the heart of the flawed tax cut plan. Krugman is a smart economist, even if he is often overly insistant on always having a balanced budget. In this piece Krugman attacks the tax cut plan, once again, but wonders where Republicans got their magic "1.4 million jobs" figure. And, he argues, if that's how many jobs this massive tax cut will create, why not just increase government spending and have the government take on those jobs?
"The average American worker earns only about $40,000 per year; why does the administration, even on its own estimates, need to offer $500,000 in tax cuts for each job created? If it's all about jobs, wouldn't it be far cheaper just to have the government hire people?"
Maybe I'm missing something, but this seems to make sense. Instead of spurring the economy with a tax cut that a solid majority of American oppose, why doesn't the government be pro-active and spur the economy on its own?
To get tax payers to act for the common good instead of their own greedy self-interest is amazing, though this is no compliment for Bush. His insistance on this tax cut is unnecessary and it will do nothing for the economy in the long run.
Much of the plan aims for one-time cuts. History has shown that one-time cuts do nothing but empty the coffers of the government, and in a time when federal programs and state budgets desparately need that funding. One-time tax cuts do not make people spend more, for consumers have no expectation of such a cut happening in the future. Unless the cut is a permenant feature, it will accomplish nothing. And, even if it were long lasting, it is still the wrong fix for the current recession.
Politics and reelection shouldn't determine the fiscal health of America.
If you want to know how the Electoral College works, ask the Democratic National Committee. Or at least that's what Florida Governor Jeb Bush will tell you.
When asked by a high school student about who he should contact to learn more about the Electoral College system, the President's brother referred him to the Democrats.
Said DNC Chairman Terence McAuliffe, "We understand why Governor Bush wasn't able to answer the student's question. When you've got the Supreme Court, you don't have to understand the Electoral College."