Jewish World Review May 31, 2001 / 9 Sivan, 5761
For starters, the moderate center did not gain. Vermont was a state represented in Congress by a Republican, a Democrat and a socialist --- and they vote essentially alike. Mainstream Southerners will not like the politics that results from the change in Senate control.
Having the very liberal Vermont Democrat, Patrick Leahy, or Delaware's Joe Biden presiding over the selection of federal judges and Massachusetts' Ted Kennedy shaping federal involvement in education, for example, will starkly define party differences. The Senate's greatest pork-barreler, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, will keep watch over appropriations.
This is not good news for U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), who faces re-election next year.
Suddenly, the stakes become considerably larger than one senator. The stakes now are those that existed for the nation last November when, without exception, the South and border states voted for George W. Bush. The appalling resistance to tax cuts from the national Democratic Party, and the absolute determination to preserve excess tax collections for new and expanded federal spending programs, is the agenda voters rejected just seven months ago.
Admittedly, the nation is approaching a divide. According to the Heritage Foundation, taxpayers and nonfilers with incomes below $30,000 in the past fiscal year receive a dollar in federal spending for every 10 cents they pay in taxes. Over 34 percent of those who file returns pay no income tax.
The top 50 percent of taxpayers, those earning more than $25,491 per year, pay 95.8 percent of the tax burden, according to 1998 data compiled by the Tax Foundation.
Even now, says Patrick Fleenor, the Tax Foundation's chief economist, more than half the total population pays no income tax at all. "There are fewer and fewer people paying taxes," he says. "Since 1986, more and more people have fallen off the tax rolls. The poor don't pay now and with the child credit in the Bush bill, that threshold is moving into the middle class."
The nation, then, is approaching the line where the constituency for expanded programs and services, for the cultivation of a welfare state, is greater than the constituency for containment.
The country's politics are playing out on that divide. National Democrats, convinced that the tax-takers are more prominent than the taxpayers, are now in a position to push their party's agenda --- and, with a Senate majority, to promote activist judges who share their worldview. Dreams have come true.
These weeks since the November elections have been truly bizarre. Democratic partisans and their commentators have simply luxuriated in denial, declining to acknowledge the election's end and its outcome. Like the aged beauty queen who spends her life in darkened rooms replaying the reels of her vanished youth, the political left replays Florida, or the popular vote, gloomily fantasizing and, on those fantasies, constructing new realities. As they twist and turn, reorienting the world to the results they crave, the dementia takes hold: Al Gore really won. The American people really did prefer them, but were charmed and tricked by the convivial dunce.
And now, at last, Jeffords has made it so. He has reversed the election, empowering Democrats to implement the policies, and bring forth the public officials and judges they are convinced are best for America.
Next year's Senate race in Georgia, then, is about which
of two starkly different views of government will
04/13/01: High Court grants another building block in the case for faith-based involvement in addressing the nation's social ills