"Trigger" Is A Dead Horse!
By Bonnie Chernin Rogoff
Founder, Jews For Life
March 19, 2001
Saddled down with the obligatory IRS forms that trim down our wallets and provide fodder for the well-to-do in Washington, my beef is not with Roy Rogers. My husband and I are no different from other middle class hard-working people who cringed at the news of Compaq's big layoff. Our investments thankfully are small but they are presently sickly, our trip to Europe will most likely wait, and the classic car I was planning to buy will probably remain in the stable for now.
Still, in my fiscally oppressed state I pray I will be redeemed from cosmetically enhanced flaxen-maned TV news anchorettes and Senate Democrats who enlighten me with their daily feed on "trigger" mechanisms. It's imperative, they say, amid a probable (!) recession and the threat of decreased surpluses to have triggers in place to examine the budget every few years. And the lockbox -- oh, what about the Social Security lockbox? HEY, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I ignore doomsayers who tend to make up fables faster than I make up my face. The political maneuvers are worn; to try and kill support for a necessary tax refund by scaring people into believing it will damage the economy and diminish Social Security holdings is preposterous. A cyclical economic downturn is not indicative of a great depression, and a teensy weensy tax cut won't stimulate growth. The tax refund should be bigger, and come all at once, so we can save our money now. It is totally immoral to subject our earnings to periodic reviews, which all but guarantee the money will stay in Washington and we will never see it. In fact, it would behoove us to quit referring to a "government surplus" as if the money belongs to them.
To add insult to injury, we have a new trend in America; self-effacing schizoid billionaires who: 1) waste no time enjoying their success with bountiful investments and 2) feel such remorse about their success they feel they must whine and set the tone for tax policy. It appears to be a malignant disorder run amok. Supercilious and self-absorbed, these people make obscene amounts of money and apparently have too much time on their hands. So, they add their voices to the fray to the detriment of the rest of us:
"Speaking for myself, I don't need a tax cut or tax relief. It is a privilege to be an American citizen. It is appropriate to pay a greater share of taxes."
So snorted pompous billionaire David Geffen in the Washington Post last week, apologizing for amassing his $3.3 billion dollar fortune. This troubles me. If you have a guilty conscience about keeping money you rightfully earned, why bother working so hard to get rich? Fortune 500 list toppers like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are lately preoccupied with keeping income taxes and estate taxes alive and well. Geffen is right; they won't suffer. But their beneficiaries and regular folks like you and I will. That's unforgivable.
As for President Bush, he has not "talked" the economy into a recession any more than Bill Clinton created the boom of the last eight years. Bill Clinton inherited a growing good economy from Bush the Elder, and Bush the Younger inherited a growing poor economy from Clinton. (Sad how Clinton benefited from all this excellent timing without ever lifting his -- well, never mind.)
A Reuters report has President Bush accusing Democrats of aiding and abetting the economy nosedive by not supporting his $1.6 trillion cut. Democrats have rebounded with their own attacks:
Senator Tom Daschle: "They're doing it for the short-term political gain of passing a tax cut we can't afford and don't need. They're doing it in a way that I think is very, very harmful to the economy."
In a letter to President Bush, Sens. Chuck Schumer (NY) and Richard Durbin (IL) objected to the tax cut because they claim it doesn't "reflect today's economic realities." (They're right; it needs to be MUCH larger!) Their letter states, in part:
"At this critical juncture, your tax cut as written will not provide the needed immediate economic stiumulus and stave off a potential recession."
They are SO RIGHT! The tax cut should have come a year ago, when tech stocks began to fall, and the signs of bad times to come were clear. Senator Schumer seems to forget we had a different President back then.
As far as Senator Daschle's comments about our country not being able to "afford" a tax cut, I say -- who are you kidding? We can't afford NOT to have a tax cut! For example, under President Bush's plan, a couple earning a modest $100,000 per year (that's two teacher's salaries) with no children would receive an additional $2,190 per year. With one child, that same couple would receive $2,603. That's real, live cash -- cash that could pay for a child's medical bills, food, clothing, and down payment on school tuition. So let's see -- these sanctimonious Democrats won't allow private school vouchers, and they don't allow tax refunds that can help parents pay for a child's private school education. Hypocrisy? Hello?
Now, brace yourselves. It is the Senate Republicans for whom I reserve my greatest scorn. I expect Democrats to pick our pockets and punish the middle class to their advantage, that's their trademark. However, when I hear Republicrat Sens. Chafee, Snowe, Jeffords and Company denounce Bush's tax cut as too big, it makes me wretch. Welcome to the new GOP - Gone On Principles. I'm tired of our conservative values being trashed and held hostage by a few errant individuals. I say, get Viagra-man Bob Dole out of the bedroom and bring him back to the bargaining table. Elizabeth can wait. Besides, Dole's a hell of a better Senate Majority Leader than the odious Trent Lott, who spends time compromising and kissing up to his liberal buddies. We need ALL the conservative Republicans to show some muscle for a change, and get the whole crew to sign on to a much bigger tax cut. Lord Lott is a political lackey, and isn't up to the job. What a shame.
I have little hope that the trigger-happy lefties tilting the control of the U.S. Senate will let overtaxed wage earners get the relief they deserve. Worse, President Bush is already "receptive" to a trigger (i.e., he's being pressured by liberals into compromise). It's not up to Bush, it's up to Senate conservatives to pull this through or our money will be squandered on yet more wasteful programs for another four years. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but in a bear market any tax break is better than none.
Copyright 2001 by Bonnie Chernin Rogoff. Not to be reproduced in any fashion, in whole or in part, without written consent from the author. All rights reserved.