April 4, 2001
Despite the Republicans enjoying a majority in all three branches
of the federal government, the liberals seem to have a lock on debates
about public policy because they are more skillful (or dishonest) in
the use of words. The current controversy about tax cuts is a good
That master wordsmith Bill Clinton popularized the use of the word
"investments" as a synonym for taxes. The IRS tax collector, using the
police power of the government, takes a big slice of your income while
sweet-talking you with the lie that this organized theft is really an
investment (even though it will rapidly vanish rather than grow).
Some of it goes for useful purposes such as protecting us from
foot-and-mouth disease. But lots more of it goes for extravagant
purposes such as a $514,148-a-year luxury pad for Hillary Clinton in
The most offensive manipulation of words is the way the liberals
bleat that they can't "afford" a tax cut because it would "cost" too
much. The liberals' mindset is that a tax cut is something like a
government grant or subsidy to be awarded at the discretion of our
royal masters to persons of their choice.
The liberal worldview was aptly expressed by President Clinton
after his 1999 State of the Union Address when he shuffled off to
Buffalo and told his audience that government must keep control of the
tax surpluses because the people won't "spend it right."
President Bush set forth the Republican response in his first
address to a joint session of Congress on February 27. "The choice is
to let the American people spend their own money to meet their own
Continuing, he explained: "The growing surplus exists because
taxes are too high, and government is charging more than it needs. The
people of America have been overcharged and, on their behalf, I'm here
asking for a refund."
The federal government's current take in taxes is the highest
since World War II. It's the highest in percentage of family income
and the highest in percentage of U.S. Gross Domestic Product.
The World War II generation accepted a crushing tax burden (and
the gimmick of payroll deduction that made it possible) in the belief
that the cause was worthy. In any event, the sacrifice of their money
paled in comparison to the sacrifice of their sons on the battlefield.
War is the biggest cause of Big Government, and the politicians
who tasted the prerogatives of distributing appropriated monies
continued to keep their hands in our pockets long past the Korean War.
Then another master politician, President Lyndon B. Johnson, discovered
that he could coopt a massive pot of taxpayers' money by drastically
reducing the defense budget and (in an elegant metaphor coined by
Newsweek) skillfully slice up the melon in domestic handouts that
rapidly grew into targeted entitlements.
When we hear wives and mothers assert that today's economy
"requires two incomes," that they "have to take a paid job in order to
maintain a reasonable standard of living," let's be blunt about the
cause of their financial bind. Mothers don't "have to work" in order
to support their families; they "have to work" in order to pay their
taxes and support the federal bureaucracy.
In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton defined "the rich" as those "over
$200,000," but he was referring to lifetime savings NOT annual income.
The Democrats' tax plan sponsored by then-Majority Leader Richard
Gephardt (H.R. 4848) and then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell
(S. 2571) would have reduced from $600,000 to $200,000 the property
exempt from the death tax.
That would have enabled the tax collector to confiscate 32 to 55
percent of everything every American owned at death (cash, investments,
home, farm and small business) in excess of $200,000. Fortunately,
that bill never passed, but it remains a classic example of the tax
greed of the liberals.
The first President Bush gave us a huge tax increase in 1990,
raising the top tax rate from 28 to 31 percent and taking away the
value of benefits such as the personal exemption and itemized
deductions. Three years later in 1993, President Clinton raised the
top tax rate to 39.6 percent.
The dirty little secret of our high federal income taxes is that
at least a third of the American people don't pay any federal income
taxes at all. If we are really going to cut taxes, we will have to cut
taxes for the people who are paying taxes.
One way to cut taxes would be to reduce all the rates that were
increased under Bush and Clinton. Another way would be to make the
employee's share of Social Security taxes tax-deductible to employees,
just as the employer's share is currently tax-deductible to employers.
Another way would be to make health insurance tax-deductible to
individuals, just as employer's health insurance premium payments are
tax-deductible to corporations. There is no solution to the increase
in current health-care entitlements until we move to a system where
individuals own their own health insurance as they own their own auto
The American people are caught in a tax trap; the harder they
work, the more they're forced to forfeit in taxes. Congress should
refund the surplus from the U.S. Treasury; it's our money.