Monday, February 12, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, February 12, 2001

Tax-cut bill sparks fever on Capitol Hill

President Bush has sent his $1.6 trillion 10-year tax-cutting proposal to Congress, insisting it’s a necessary stimulus as the economy sinks toward recession.

The rationale is disingenuous; Bush would have sought a tax cut if the economy were still booming.

But in much the same way as he will use the California energy crisis as an excuse to exploit the Alaska wilderness for oil, he’s using the sense of fiscal crisis to rush his tax cut, proposing retroactivity.

Bush even has the implied blessing of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who said that if Congress can’t live with a budget surplus, it’s better to give it back to taxpayers than to spend it.

But Greenspan also warned that tax cutting "could readily resurrect the deficits of the past and the fiscal imbalances that followed in their wake."

Greenspan had in mind the great tax cut of 1981, in which an enthusiastic Congress doubled President Reagan’s proposal. That’s likely to happen again this time.

If Congress must cut taxes, we hope it will adjust Bush’s package to make it fairer. The rich already are getting richer as the poor get poorer; they don’t need this sort of help. Bush wants to give the richest 1 percent, who pay 21 percent of taxes, a 43 percent tax cut.

If the unlimited estate tax, also favored by Bush, is later passed by Congress, the gap between rich and poor will grow beyond vast. That’s unconscionable.

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