It's Time to Have Real Tax Cuts|
At last somebody in government has stepped out
from the crowd and said what Americans have been
waiting to hear, namely, that he has a plan to cut and
simplify our oppressive tax burden and let us spend our
own money any way we want to spend it. That's what
Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO) did when he announced
that the way to spell reform is R-E-D-U-C-E.
Most of the talk about taxes we hear out of
Washington misses the mark. The debate about a flat
tax versus a national sales tax is, to use an overworked
metaphor, just rearranging the deck chairs on you know
what. The transition to a completely new system would
be agonizing, and there's no assurance that total taxes
would be lower than they are today. "Abolish the IRS"
is a cheap applause line in any politician's speech, but
it's an empty promise. Federal taxes are not going to
be abolished, so what difference does it make what is
the name of the agency?
Bill Clinton's tax-cut proposals are all "targeted."
That's the liberals' code word for saying "We'll give
you a slight reduction on your federal tax bill just so
long as you spend the difference the way the
government tells you to spend it." Clinton's much
ballyhooed daycare initiative is a case in point.
"Targeted tax cuts" require spending them on hired
daycare, but no tax cut is available to those who spend
their money on mothercare.
We're surfeited with talking heads on TV
speculating on how the politicians are going to spend
the alleged budget surplus. It's not theirs to spend,
thank you; we'd like to spend our money ourselves.
The big question is, as Senator Ashcroft pointed
out, why are Americans "paying higher taxes than
virtually any time in history"? Why is our non-defense
federal spending 17% of our Gross Domestic Product
compared to only 10% in the 1960s? We're not at war,
no enemy is clamoring at our gates, and the economy
is booming. So why are we continuing to support the
Washington politicians in the rich style to which
they've become accustomed (while they posture about
compassion for the "middle class")?
The American people are fed up with carrying this
enormous tax burden on our backs. The two-earner
median-income American family pays a shocking 38.2
percent of its income to the government in 1998.
For starters, John Ashcroft's proposal would allow
taxpayers to deduct the Social Security and Medicare
taxes they pay (known as the payroll or FICA tax).
This simple change would put money in the pockets of
more working Americans than any other proposal. It's
also a matter of simple fairness because half of the
Social Security tax is paid by employers, who can fully
deduct those payments as a business expense. It's only
fair to allow employees to deduct the half that they pay,
This proposal is especially advantageous because
its benefits would go to middle-class taxpaying
workers, not to people who live on interest, dividends,
loopholes, welfare, or tax credits. It would relieve the
burden of high payroll taxes without taking a dime out
of the trust funds that pay Social Security and Medicare
Ashcroft's plan would help senior citizens by
eliminating the income tax on Social Security benefits
and by eliminating the earnings test for Social Security.
The 10-point Ashcroft proposal has something in it for
all Americans and offers a complete answer to most of
the arguments that the Democrats make against
Republican tax-cut ideas.
Ashcroft's tax overhaul is designed for tax relief,
simpler tax returns, correcting inequities in the tax
code, and enhancing core American values. His plan
would reduce the number of tax brackets from five to
four and substantially reduce the rates for most
Ashcroft's plan calls for doubling the IRA
contribution level to $4000 and for eliminating the
marriage penalty in a way that would protect families
and be fair to both two-earner and single-earner
couples. By contrast, other Republican plans being
floated would discriminate against fulltime
homemakers. Initial cost estimates suggest that
Ashcroft's plan would cut the tax bill of a married
couple with two children 55 percent if their income is
$40,000, and 86 percent if their income is $30,000.
The naysayers are already complaining that the
Ashcroft proposal would "cost too much." But we
must not allow the liberals and the spenders to control
the language of the tax debate. The liberals' language
operates from the assumption that the politicians own
the tax revenues and that it "costs" them to give any of
that money back to the taxpayers. On the contrary, the
starting point should be how much the taxpayers are
willing to give to the politicians.
Criticizing the "timid, anemic tax package" passed
by the Republican Congress last year, Ashcroft points
out that federal spending is projected to increase by
$1.5 trillion over the next five years. The Ashcroft tax
cut looks very reasonable by comparison: $985 billion
over five years.
Senator Ashcroft warns that "we simply don't have
time to wait." We have to cut taxes "before the
President and the govermentalists in the GOP use the
budget surplus on new entitlements."
Watch Out for Marriage Tax "Reform"
"The hottest tax cut in 1998" is the way some
Congressmen are describing their infatuation with the
notion of eliminating the so-called "marriage tax." But
taxpayers should beware of the current political passion
for targeted tax cuts rather than cutting taxes for all
taxpayers. What seems to have given otherwise timid
Republicans in Congress the courage to advocate any
tax cut at all is that Bill Clinton endorsed this idea.
That should be a signal that there is something wrong
There is a wrong way and a right way to address the
so-called marriage tax problem. The bill introduced by
Rep. David McIntosh (R-IN) and Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL) takes the wrong road because it would create a new
discrimination; the bill introduced by Rep. Bob Riley
(R-AL)and Sen. Lauch Faircloth (R-NC) takes the right
road because it is based on fairness to all married
Under the McIntosh-Weller bill, two married
couples with the same family income would pay a
different federal income tax. The couple in which the
wife is a fulltime homemaker would pay a higher tax
than the couple in which the wife has paid
employment. The McIntosh-Weller bill would reduce
the tax burden on two-earner couples (especially those
earning more than $50,000), while leaving everybody
else's tax bill the same. That would not only diminish
the ability of others to get their taxes reduced, but it
would severely penalize mothers who work at home.
The Riley-Faircloth bill, on the other hand, treats
all married couples equally. It is based on the principle
of income splitting, which means that the taxes on a
married couple would be figured by adding up the
income of both spouses and dividing by two, so that
each spouse would be taxed on half the income. This
means that couples with the same income would be
taxed the same no matter whether earned by the
husband or the wife or both. The Riley bill completely
avoids at the homemaker penalty that is built into the
Congressman McIntosh defends his bill by
comparing the tax paid by two singles, each earning
$30,000 a year, with the higher tax they pay if they
marry and file a joint return. But there's a more
important way to look this matter.
Let's take the case of a married couple that needs
more income. If the wife takes a paid job, the couple
gets the benefit of the McIntosh-Weller "tax break."
But if the husband works harder to increase his own
earnings (by overtime or a promotion), or takes a
second job (moonlights), the couple gets no benefit at
This would compound the discrimination that
already exists in the income tax code against the single-income family. The two-earner couple already gets a
significant tax break in being able to claim the Child
and Dependent Care Tax Credit -- a credit that is
available only to the couple that hires paid child care,
and is not available to the couple that uses mother care.
The McIntosh-Weller bill is designed to provide the
maximum benefit to two-earner couples where the
husband and wife have approximately equal earnings.
But there are so many real-life situations that the
McIntosh-Weller bill would discriminate against, such
as when the wife quits her job to care for a new baby or
goes part-time after her husband gets a promotion.
Senator John Chafee (R-RI) has announced another
insult to homemakers: a proposal to expand the child
care credit and to appropriate expensive new subsidies
for hired daycare. Homemakers are completely fed up
with the tax benefits and preferences that the present
system gives to wives who are employed outside the
home, but not to families that give their children
mother and father care.
The McIntosh-Weller bill is based on static, rather
than dynamic analysis. That is, the tax consequences it
predicts are based on the assumption that human
behavior is static and will not be influenced by changes
in the tax code.
It is surprising that any conservative would fall for
this myth in the post-Reagan era. The original 1981
Reagan tax cut was based on dynamic analysis, i.e.,
that human behavior will change as a result of tax
incentives. Reagan's successful 1981 tax reduction
proved that, when we cut tax rates, the government
collects more tax revenues, not less, because the cut
provided incentives for taxpayers to work harder and
make more money.
The incentives built into the McIntosh-Weller bill
operate counter to the best interests of society. It has a
built-in incentive to induce the mother to take paid
employment and use hired daycare, an incentive that is
morally, socially, fiscally, and politically unacceptable.
The principal argument against the Riley-Faircloth
bill is that it would cost too much, i.e., reduce the
politicians' ability to spend as much of our money as
they want. Phrased another way, the Riley bill would
allow taxpayers to keep more of their own money, and
it recognizes the simple fact that marriage involves two
If Congress wants to lighten the tax burden on
families, the way to go is very simple. Just cut tax rates
for everyone! That would be fair to all: one-earner
couples, two-earner couples, and singles.
How Did the Turtle Get on the Fence Post?
When even Senator Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) is
indicating on TV's Capital Gang that Communist
Chinese attempts to influence the policies of the
Clinton Administration may have risen to the level of
Communist Russia's infiltration of our government in
the 1940s, it's time for Congress to act.
While the office of independent counsel is a recent
legislative creation, the House of Representatives'
authority to investigate and impeach a President for
"treason, bribery, or other high crimes and
misdemeanors" comes directly from the Constitution.
Whereas the appointment of an independent counsel
triggers a criminal proceeding, impeachment is not a
criminal process at all. Impeachment is a purely
political procedure for which the most severe
punishment would be removal from office and no way
can result in sending the President to prison.
Former President Gerald Ford gave the best
explanation of what is an impeachable offense. He
said, "An impeachable offense is whatever a majority
of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a
given moment in history."
Nixon wasn't removed from office over the minor
crime of a break-in at the Watergate Hotel. What
brought him down was the charges of obstruction of
justice, conspiracy, and coverup. Those are the same
charges that should be examined in an impeachment
inquiry of Bill Clinton.
The facts that 30 people have taken the Fifth
Amendment and five have fled the country indicate that
there are a lot of co-conspirators involved in the Asian
Nobody denies that Clinton and Gore made fund-raising calls from their White House offices, a violation
of the Pendleton Act. Clinton's supporters say "ho
hum" about this offense, arguing that it's just a
"technical" violation, the law is "too old," and
"anyway, everybody does it."
However, the question isn't just whether Bill
Clinton and Al Gore made fund-raising calls from the
White House. The question is whether they were actors
in a scheme to evade the laws about foreign money,
spending limits, the use of soft money for political
purposes, and the offering or giving of a quid pro quo
for Asian campaign donations.
We need an impeachment inquiry to find out if
Administration decisions, such as the sale of
superconductor computer technology to China, the
attempt to give China computer disks containing copies
of all American patents, the locking up of huge coal
reserves in Utah (which vastly increased the value of
Indonesian coal), and the leasing to China of the naval
base in Long Beach, were made by the Clinton
Administration in return for large campaign donations.
And what about the selling of White House coffees and
Clinton's friends, Johnny Huang, Charlie Trie, and
Johnny Chung visited the White House more than 200
times prior to the 1996 election. They raised millions
of dollars of illegal money, much of which had to be
returned by the Democratic National Committee.
Videotapes show that Clinton encouraged
foreigners to solicit support from others in their home
country, which is clearly against the law. Clinton had
a personal hands-on involvement with the television
"issue" ads that began running in 1995, and videotapes
show him boasting that these ads helped his campaign
Obstruction of justice was one of Nixon's major
offenses. Bill Clinton has engaged in a similar pattern,
such as refusing to honor subpoenas, deliberate delays
in responding to subpoenas and congressional requests
for documents, and mysteriously finding incriminating
documents long after subpoenaed with flimsy excuses
for the delays.
We need a thorough investigation into Clinton's
good buddy, Johnny Huang, who functioned
simultaneously as a top bureaucrat at the Department
of Commerce with responsibility over U.S. trade policy
and as a top fund-raiser for the Democratic National
Committee. Did he also wear a third hat as an
espionage agent for Communist China?
Communist China pumped millions of dollars into
the Clinton-Gore reelection campaign. The Chinese
government is not a charitable foundation seeking good
government; it is a corrupt totalitarian regime that
engages in theft, bribery, and industrial espionage as a
way of doing business.
Chinese actions, Clinton's policies, and the massive
money flow to Clinton's campaign coffers reveal a
pattern that cannot be ignored. To quote Bill Clinton's
own words about drawing conclusions from
circumstantial evidence, "One of the things I was
taught as a child is that, if you see a turtle on a fence
post, the chances are it didn't get there by accident."
That's right, Mr. Clinton. Let's find out how the
turtle got on the fence post by proceeding with the
Inquiry of Impeachment introduced by Rep. Bob Barr
Will We Allow Clinton to Redefine the Presidency?
The current Clinton crisis has significance far
beyond his lame-duck years. At stake is whether the
White House will become a public relations vehicle for
lying and polling, akin to a television show, or will
remain a platform for the principled articulation of
policies and values that Americans respect.
The American people have always had a reverence
for the presidency, even though many men who held
the office were less worthy than we expected. But
Clinton has converted the once-serious offense of lying
to the American public into a daily rite to be practiced
and perfected (from Filegate to Asian political
donations to Bosnian deadlines).
Finally, Senator John Ashcroft (R-MO) has stepped
out from the pack and said what needed to be said:
"Mr. President, if these allegations are true, you have
disgraced yourself, you have disgraced the country, you
have disgraced the office, and you should leave."
While most other Republicans mistakenly discuss
short-term political impact, Senator Ashcroft
recognizes that the presidency itself is now at stake.
Will allowing Clinton to continue in office establish a
precedent that dooms our children and grandchildren to
suffer under future presidents who occupy the White
House because of their skill at lying on television?
Will we allow our tradition of the rule of law to die
under Clinton's poll-pandering? As Sen. Ashcroft said,
"It is time for us to worry less about what is right for
the party and more about teaching our kids what's right
and what's wrong."
At the center of the current Clinton crisis is the
affidavit by Monica Lewinsky, which is allegedly
perjured and was allegedly suborned by Clinton.
Unnoticed by many, including, apparently, Ken Starr's
investigation, is that the circumstances surrounding
Lewinsky's affidavit are remarkably similar to the
obstruction of justice proved in the other civil suit
against Clinton -- Hillary Clinton, that is.
In Association of American Physicians and
Surgeons (AAPS) v. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the
plaintiffs sought discovery regarding the Health Care
Task Force and Working Groups, which developed the
master plan for the Administration's attempt to take
over the health care industry. One or both Clintons
apparently arranged for the submission of a false sworn
declaration in order to stonewall the required discovery
and curtail an embarrassing civil proceeding.
The false submission in the AAPS v. Clinton
lawsuit occurred shortly before Vincent Foster's death.
Webster Hubbell, in his recent book, wrote that
Hillary's demand that Foster "fix it" (the AAPS case)
hurt him deeply and was among the reasons he
The actual signer of the document was given a
plush job in apparent reward for misleading the court.
The federal judge in AAPS v. Clinton stated in
December that this decision to mislead the court was
"made at the highest levels of government."
In the words of the federal court, the sworn
declaration in the AAPS case was "false" and an act of
"dishonesty" and "not good faith." In words that apply
equally well to the submission of the Lewinsky
affidavit a few weeks later, the court held that "some
government officials never learn that the cover-up can
be worse than the underlying conduct." The court
sanctioned the defendants, including Hillary Clinton,
for $285,864.78. This was the first such penalty ever
imposed against a president or first lady.
The analogies between the sworn statements in the
civil actions of AAPS v. Hillary Clinton and Paula
Jones v. William Clinton are striking. While Hillary
parades the country making sanctimonious statements
about her husband's case, the White House demands
that the taxpayers pay for her judicially-determined
misconduct in her own case. Soon Hillary will insist
that the American taxpayers either pay for a costly
appeal of the sanctions against her, and thereby risk
additional sanctions, or pay the $285,864.78 on her
If we care about the future of our nation, we cannot
allow Bill and Hillary Clinton to define a new type of
presidency in which the president and his wife are
above the law. Under 18 U.S.C. 1512, tampering with
witnesses is a serious crime.
In past years, numerous Courts of Appeals have
enforced the witness tampering statute against
defendants for engaging in conduct analogous to that of
the Clintons. It would be tragic if the Clintons succeed
in converting the presidency into a public relations
office that is above the law, and which requires the
taxpayers to foot the bill for presidential misconduct.
The issue is not what Bill Clinton did or didn't do
with Paula or Gennifer or Monica, or even who served
or didn't serve on Hillary's Health Care Task Force.
The issue is whether we are going to allow the
president to get by with flouting the law and lying
about it on television, while hiding behind his
popularity in the polls.
If that precedent prevails, Americans can look
forward to a succession of TV charlatans and
professional liars occupying the White House.