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Jewish World Review / Oct. 19, 1998 / 29 Tishrei, 5759

Don Feder

Don Feder Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'

PERHAPS THE MOST PERPLEXING aspect of the Clinton drama is the president's high job-approval ratings -- hovering around 60 percent. Has mass psychosis struck the nation?

Call it superstition, instead.

Most Americans operate on the assumption that the president is a master magician or god king. When unemployment is low and mutual funds are strong, it's because the god king has somehow worked his bewitchment -- perhaps through ritual sacrifices or other sympathetic magic.

Have we become a country of cutouts!?
And so, Clinton gets credit for 4.6 percent unemployment and inflation running at 1.6 percent annually (not to mention a modest budget surplus), as if he were the whiz-kid CEO of a company whose balance sheet showed a profit after decades in the red.

In reality, this president has done his best to sabotage a generally strong economy inherited from his predecessors. That he hasn't succeeded is due to the brake of a Republican Congress since 1995.

In three significant areas that will have dire consequences for the economy (education, taxation and Social Security), he is the major roadblock to reform.

How long will the American economy chug thrive with an increasingly ill-educated work force?

Despite the fact that we spend more on education per student (about $6,000 annually) than any other industrialized nation, high-school graduates can barely tie their shoes.

According to the results of the Third International Math and Science Study, among 25 developed nations, the United States ranked last or next to last in every category.

Also, a report published in Education Week noted that half of all fourth- and eighth-graders in the country score below the basic level (itself quite low) in math, science and reading.

The public school monopoly exists for administrators, educators, teachers' unions and the politicians who benefit from their support -- including the dunce in the Oval Office.

The answer is school choice, which Clinton thwarts at every turn, no matter how modest the proposal. In June, he vetoed the A-plus Savings Accounts, which would have permitted families to create tax-favored accounts to pay tuition at private schools.

A month earlier, the man his party hails as "the education president" vetoed a bill to establish scholarships worth up to $3,200 apiece for 2,000 children from low-income families in the District of Columbia.

Clinton, whose own daughter went from the exclusive Sidwell school to Stanford University, denies inner-city kids the same opportunity. Nice job -- for the public-ed lobby.

The middle-class tax cut Clinton promised voters in 1992 became the every-class tax hike of 1993, the largest increase in our history, roughly $250 billion over five years.

Since then, the president has fought a determined action to keep Republicans from cutting taxes. Prior to this year, the deficit was the excuse (not that it kept Democrats from spending like there was no tomorrow in lean times). Now that there's a surplus, Social Security is the fallback position.

Gotta save our nationalized retirement system, Clinton declares, before anything goes back to taxpayers.

Thanks to the president's Herculean efforts, in 1999, Washington will take 20.1 percent of everything Americans earn, more than at any time since 1945. (In 1969, during the heyday of the Great Society and the Vietnam War, the feds gobbled up only 19.7 percent.) How long can the economy bear this burden?

House Republicans passed a modest $80 billion tax reduction over five years, out of a projected $9.1 trillion in cumulative surpluses. Not a penny do you get until we shore up Social Security, says the president, who's brandishing his veto pen.

In the six and one half years he's been in office, Clinton has never proposed any type of Social Security reform. He's playing the same role here as on education -- the principal impediment to progress, defending the statist status quo against privatization efforts.

But, as Republican strategist Grover Norquist points out, Clinton did one very important thing for the economy.

His '93 tax hike and attempt to nationalize health care the same year resulted in the election of a Republican Congress in 1994, which checked his spending urges and led to the present robust economy. If the president's 1993 five-year spending plan had been enacted, we would now have a $300-billion deficit instead of a $70 billion surplus.

By helping to give Republicans a larger majority in the next Congress, Clinton will do even more for the economy. If they pass educational choice, meaningful Social Security reform and tax relief over his veto, he may yet go down in history as the prosperity president.


10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1998, Boston Herald; distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc.