Jewish World Review Jan. 24, 2000 /17 Shevat, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LAST WEEK, I wrote that by promoting John McCain, the media had accidentally helped George Bush by making him appear more conservative. There's been another byproduct of their "McCainomania." The Republican race is veering leftward.
When this campaign was just beginning, it appeared that Bush's main competition would come from the right wing of the party. And today, after sluggish starts, both Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes are beginning to be noticed, especially in Iowa. But to the media, these two conservatives are wholly invisible and irrelevant. The media are doing their best to make this a two-man race between Bush and McCain.
During the early Republican debates, the conservatives were controlling the issues, to the great dissatisfaction of the media. Keyes, Forbes and Bauer were denouncing the existing tax system and the IRS. So effective was their onslaught that even Senator Hatch started railing against the agency and suggested eliminating it. The unthinkable was becoming thinkable. And since meaningful policy changes must be preceded by ideas, we owe these conservative candidates a debt of gratitude.
But as McCain got more and more attention from the press it was his ideas, not those of the conservatives, that began to be compared with Bush's. Bush proposed reducing marginal income tax rates for all tax brackets -- not as much as I would prefer, but at least his proposal was consistent with supply-side theory. McCain then unveiled his timid plan, and in Clintonian spirit, attacked Bush as a trickle-down ogre. Since then, the Republican debate on tax policy has centered on heated exchanges between Bush and McCain as to whose plan is fairer.
So while I'm sure the media are not happy that they have boosted Bush's image as a conservative, they must be overjoyed at having dampened the movement for real tax reform, as championed by the more conservative candidates.
It's not just the media's fault. It's also this screwy primary system where the politically oddball state of New Hampshire is given such inordinate deference. McCain's liberal notions don't seem to be catching on elsewhere among Republicans, but a disproportionate number of Independents in New Hampshire are skewing issues to the left there.
These developments should be cause for alarm among those of us who believe, for example, that the tax system is fundamentally flawed and a threat to our freedoms. It is one thing to have a class-warfare debate between Republicans and Democrats over the structure of the tax system, but we shouldn't be having that discussion in the Republican Party.
It is a foregone conclusion that Democrats will never champion the cause of freedom because their survival depends on the support of constituency groups whose purpose is to legislate and litigate themselves benefits at the expense of the producing class and of freedom itself.
A disturbing statistic is that almost all of our federal income taxes (96 percent) are paid by the top half of income producers. This means that the bottom half are paying almost no federal income tax. I don't care how compassionate liberals like to convince themselves they are, there is nothing compassionate about top-loading a system to the point of its inevitable bankruptcy.
No nation can continue indefinitely with such confiscatorily progressive taxes and a power-mad agency entrusted with their enforcement. For a while, that point was being made loudly and clearly, but it has since been squelched by this media manufactured fracas between Bush and McCain over tax minutiae.
My hope is that the GOP will not allow itself to settle on the mushy middle on such vital issues but recapture its identity as the party of reform.
For that to happen, the party must shed its establishment and insider mentality -- this entrenched mindset that keeps it from thinking "outside the box" and leads to suppressed dreams, complacency and stagnation.
Not long ago, welfare was considered beyond reform, the deficit beyond balance and the Soviet Union invincible. Let's not forget the lesson of recent history that big changes are possible, even with things we had been told were beyond our control. Let's not lose our vision.
Republicans should grab the reins back from the media and steer this
debate back to the
01/20/00: Nationalizing congressional elections