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Jewish World Review April 12, 2000 /7 Nissan, 5760

Don Feder

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Gore and Clinton feel no pain over your taxes -- AS OUR ANNUAL DAY of rendering (Ceasar-wise) approaches, it is good for the serfs to understand who wants to keep them under the heaviest yoke in our history.

Al Gore and Bill Clinton are offended -- yes, personally offended -- by George Bush's plan for a five-year, $483 billion tax cut. Gore says it's a "risky scheme" and "economic snake oil" that will jeopardize Social Security and take us back to the era of mega-deficits.

Regarding risky, tax-cutting schemes (for him a redundancy), Clinton advises: "This is a moment for making tomorrows. This is not a moment for indulging ourselves."

Some of us, self-indulgent slobs that we are, wonder why, with a projected budget surplus of $200 billion this year, we can't luxuriate in a little tax cut.

For the average household, total taxes now exceed the combined cost of food, shelter, clothing and transportation. The typical American works more than four months out of the year just to pay his federal, state and local levies.

Washington alone consumes more than 20 percent of America's total economic output. When the average American earns just $25,800 a year, he pays $14 in federal taxes for every additional $50 of income.

What World War II was to industrial production, the Clinton-Gore years have been to the growth of government. In 1992, federal tax revenue was $735 billion. It now exceeds $1.9 trillion.

Under Clinton-Gore, revenues have grown 7.6 percent a year, at a time when the annual inflation rate was 2.2 percent.

Bush is proposing the restitution of roughly half the annual surplus over the next five years. Taxes would be reduced from one-third for the lowest bracket to about one-fifth for the highest. He would double the current $500 per-child tax credit, removing another 6 million families from the tax rolls.

Under the Bush plan, a married couple (each earning $35,000 a year) with two children, would see their annual tax bill cut by $2,613. Over five years, that's enough to buy a new car or make a significant downpayment on a college education.

The Democrats are acting as if this proposal amounted to injecting heroin into the veins of the national economy and distributing nitroglycerin and blasting caps in mental hospitals.

Don't indulge yourselves with a tax cut, Clinton and Gore urge, indulge government, instead. Allow us to keep spending an ever-growing portion of your income.

Keep taxes high in fat years, as well as in the lean. Save Social Security. Save the public schools. Do it for the elderly. Do it for generations yet unborn. Just do it.

Speaking in Atlanta last week, Gore disclosed his discovery of a shocking "digital divide" that has resulted in unequal access to computer skills and the Internet by minority students.

The vice president wants to set a national goal of computer literacy for every student by the eighth grade, at an undisclosed cost. Many public schools can't even make children literate by junior high school. Gore believes that by spending enough he can help schools make them computer literate.

Many of you are working two jobs to support yourselves, your children and your government. You are chronically exhausted, indebted, living from paycheck to paycheck, worrying about your future.

Clinton and Gore do not share your anxiety or feel your pain. On Jan. 20, 2001, Bill Clinton will retire with an annual pension of $151,800, plus periodic cost-of-living increases, plus whatever he pulls in from writing and speaking. If Hillary is elected to the Senate, add another $141,300 to the family's income, more than enough to make the payments on their $1.7 million, 11-room Chappaqua, N.Y., home.

As vice president, Al Gore is making $181,400. Should he succeed his master (God help us), he will be the first president with an annual salary of $400,000.

Clinton-Gore can afford to urge non-indulgence, to lecture us about not spoiling ourselves with extravagant tax cuts, while they spend our earnings pampering Democratic constituencies and buying votes.

Unlike Congress, few of us can give ourselves a salary increase. But in November, we will have an opportunity to vote ourselves a raise of sorts. We earned it. Government doesn't need it. And, damn it, it's our money, not Clinton's and Gore's.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest book is Who's Afraid of the Religious Right. Comment on his column by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate