Leon Worden

Will Clinton proffer more GOP Lite?

Leon Worden · September 11, 1996

They say the Republican Party is the party of ideas and the Democratic Party is -- well, I don't know what they say the Democratic Party is. Unfortunately, all the hot air that blew through the Windy City a couple of weeks ago offered little insight. Did you notice that in his 66-minute acceptance speech, Bill Clinton uttered the word "Democrat" just four times -- and two of those times he said, "My fellow Democrats?"

It's a sorry state of affairs, no pun intended. In the last two weeks alone, Bill Clinton took credit for no fewer than a dozen different Republican proposals, from the line-item veto to welfare reform. And on that score, when Clinton said he really didn't mean it and would undo the welfare cuts later, fellow Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan chided him for once again promising what he can't deliver. According to the New York Senator, there is no way Clinton will ever scrounge up enough Senate votes to overturn the new welfare reform law that the Republican Congress put forth in its Contract With America.

Today, the Clinton spin doctors will have you believe that the new law allowing mothers to stay in the hospital at least 48 hours after having a baby was a Democrat idea. Surprise! The bill was introduced in June of 1995 by New York Republican Gerald Solomon.

Based on past performance, as the stockbrokers say, we can expect Bill Clinton to offer some new form of "Republican lite" in the coming weeks. Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • A minimum-15 percent income tax cut, where working class families get a bigger tax break than "the rich."

  • $500 tax credits -- not just deductions, but actual cash back -- for every child.

  • A 50-percent capital gains tax cut.

  • A balanced budget by 2002, accomplished through spending cuts and the larger federal revenues that a growing economy will produce.

  • An overhauled tax collection system, where 40 million low- and middle-income taxpayers will never have to file another tax return. In short, an end to the IRS as we know it.

  • A repeal of the Social Security benefits tax that Clinton signed into law in 1993 while the Democrats still controlled Congress.

  • Education and job training reform, giving parents the financial freedom to send their children to the school of their choice.

  • Lawsuit reform, limiting frivolous claims and outrageous punitive damage awards.

  • Regulatory reform, enabling entrepreneurs to succeed in small, start-up businesses -- the key to any future economic growth.

Our tax burden is higher today than it has ever been. We are witnessing the weakest economic recovery in the past 100 years. The former is the chief cause of the latter, and Bill Clinton needn't reach beyond the recent history of his own party, to a time when it was a party of fresh ideas, to see it.

John F. Kennedy understood full well that "the soundest way to raise revenues in the long run is to cut (tax) rates. The purpose of cutting taxes is . . . to achieve the more prosperous, expanding economy which will bring a budget surplus."

Kennedy knew the answer to the oxymoronic question reporters across the country have been cackling for the past several weeks, namely, "How do you pay for a tax cut?" Kennedy knew you don't "pay for" a tax cut. Tax cuts pay for themselves. Tax cuts enable entrepreneurs to start new businesses, broadening the tax base, bringing in more tax revenue for the government. Tax cuts enable businesses to grow, forcing business owners to hire more workers, taking more and more people off of unemployment and welfare rolls, reducing dependency on federal relief, eliminating the deficit and creating a budget surplus.

Alas, that tried-and-true answer doesn't fit snugly into the sort of eight-second sound bite that modern television audiences will attend and MTV's Generation X commentators can understand. Play on your star appeal, feed them a quickie like: "We're hiking taxes on everyone who makes over $30,000 and calling it a tax cut," and the eyes glaze over and the heads bob up and down in drunken acquiescence.

The upshot? Don't expect to hear Bill Clinton delve too deeply into a discourse on economic policy. At best, expect him to unveil a "less filling" version of the proposals outlined above.

There is a clear alternative. If you'd like a taste of the "real thing," check out Bob Dole's Plan for Economic Growth. All of the above proposals are in it, and more.

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Leon Worden is a Santa Clarita resident. His commentary appears on Wednesdays.

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