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Jewish World Review Aug. 11, 1999/ 29 Av 5759

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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The truth about tax cuts -- ONCE AGAIN, it's time for me to be politically incorrect. Somebody's gotta do it. After all, political incorrectness is usually synonymous with truth.

So I want to set the record straight with some politically incorrect observations regarding the Republican tax cut proposal.

Some suggest that all the Republicans need is leadership to sell their agenda, including their tax cut plan.

No doubt, leadership is indispensable to the advancement of an agenda, but there is another side to this equation: the American people.

Yes, we need political leaders, but they can only do so much. Cal Thomas was on to something when he argued with Ed Dobson in Blinded By Might that societal morality cannot be imposed top-down by our political leaders. Unfortunately, government can corrupt and demoralize from the top-down and the tax code is one of its primary instruments for doing so.

It's become politically incorrect to question the collective wisdom or virtue of the American people. But they aren't always right or in the right.

This point was brought home to me last night as I was reading Chuck Swindoll's "The Grace Awakening." He talks about the tragedy of many Christians failing to claim their rightful freedom over the power of sin. He says, "I call it running scared of a master who no longer has any rights over me. How much better to say, 'I refuse to live like that any longer. By the grace of Christ, I will live as a victor, not as a victim.'"

My point here is not to proselytize, but to borrow this Christian concept and apply it to our political condition.

Sadly, Bill Clinton has continually appealed to people's lesser natures, trying to convince them they're victims instead of responsible players. He has played to people's baser instincts of greed, envy and jealousy, trying to polarize them from those who produce more.

Republicans should summon the courage to attack Clinton's twisted concept of tax fairness. Clinton defines fairness as the top 10 percent paying almost all of the taxes. Why shouldn't he? Those 10 percent have little voting clout!

Please pardon the blasphemy, but the entire idea of a steeply progressive tax code is unfair to the top producers by definition. A flat tax would be fair: everyone paying the same rates. The rich would still pay much more in actual dollars than the middle class or the poor.

But at the very least, everyone's rates should be reduced equally. Of course the rich will get a bigger break in terms of actual dollars, because they are paying more in the first place. To say they don't deserve it is to buy into the socialist/communist worldview: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

If it is capitalism we're ashamed of, let's get it out on the table. Either we believe in the American ideal or we don't. It's time for Republicans to quit apologizing, take Bill Clinton on, and start vigorously defending the American dream.

This GOP tax cut proposal (at least the income tax portion of it) is shamefully diluted and anti-capitalistic to the extent that it contemplates greater reductions for the middle and lower classes.

A reduction of one percent in everyone's marginal rates involves a smaller reduction for the major producers. A reduction from roughly 40 percent to 39 percent is a reduction of 1/40th or 2.5 percent, whereas a reduction from 15 percent to 14 percent is a reduction of 1/15th or 6.7 percent. Thus, the highest producers get a 2.5 percent real reduction while the lower classes get 6.7 percent.

Republicans should also market their tax cut in terms of percentages rather than its estimated reductions in total revenues of $792 billion. The dollar figure makes it sound much bigger than it is and capitulates to Clinton's zero-sum propaganda: "This is not just politics. This is arithmetic."

No, Mr. Clinton, this is not just arithmetic, but it is just rank politics on your part. Both the JFK and Reagan tax cuts proved that reductions in marginal income tax rates stimulate growth and revenues, and largely pay for themselves.

No matter how much Clinton relishes pitting class against class, to punish the rich is morally wrong, not to mention counterproductive.

Real leadership requires stepping up to the plate and appealing to all people's better angels, telling them that regardless of their economic status, they should live as victors, not victims.

Or can we no longer speak the truth?

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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