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Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2001/ 15 Shevat 5761

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports

Lifting a few spoons,
cutting a few taxes -- A LOT of people figured Bill Clinton would fall through the nation's memory hole at warp speed, and a lot of people couldn't wait.

But his presence lingers, like that of a passing busboy at an Adams Morgan diner. Sometimes the odor of unlaundered loot is worse than the fragrance of an unwashed body.

The grubbing for money, gifts and petty advantage by both Bill and Hillary makes a particularly fitting backdrop for the coming struggle over George W.'s tax cuts.

Over fierce partisan protest, George W. promises to fight for relief for every taxpaying family while we get a staccato litany of bulletins about the latest Clinton heists. The Clintons are the kind of dinner guests who not only can't be trusted not to slip stray spoons into their pockets, they'll ask for doggie bags with the leftovers from the plates at adjoining tables.

The First Moochers are turning out to be insatiable, taking more than anyone first imagined. In addition to the $650,000 annual rent for the 56th floor of Carnegie Hall Tower, some of the most fashionable real estate in Manhattan, the former president is billing the government $1.5 million a year to rent an abandoned Oldsmobile dealership in an unfashionable neighborhood in Little Rock to store 76 million documents until he opens his presidential library on the banks of the Arkansas River.

That kind of money ought to get a pretty good piece of real estate in Little Rock, where you can still get a good cup of coffee for a dollar, but the president's temporary library doesn't even have a roof that holds water. A lot of the documents were damaged by leaks in a December ice storm. (No word yet on whether Monica's thong panties, the exhibit that everyone most wants to see, survived the cool-down.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the un-Clintonesque new president is talking about giving back, not taking from. He asked for help yesterday to get his tax cut through Congress. "Everybody who pays taxes will get some relief," he said. "No American should pay more than a third of his income to the federal government." He stood against a photographic blowup of a check made payable to "U.S. Taxpayer" in the amount of $1,600, the amount the average family would get.

He introduced families representing three of the four lower tax brackets that his legislation would create. The five tax brackets under current law 15 percent, 28 percent, 31 percent, 36 percent and 39.6 percent would become 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent. The Democrats, on the other hand, are desperate to stop the tax cuts because they want to spend the surplus as the bureaucrats see fit. George W. answered the accusation that he would give back the most to the people who paid in the most.

"I've heard all the talk about class warfare and this only benefiting the rich," he said. "I think when people take a good hard look at the rate reduction and who benefits and the fact that our plan . . . eases inequities in the tax code and that the bottom end of the economic ladder receives the biggest percentage cuts, people will come to realize it's important to cut all tax rates. I'm going to defend it mightily."

The president's press agent conceded that nobody from the top tax bracket where taxpayers tend to be rich Democrats like Washington lawyers and television anchormen were invited to the press conference. Their rate drops from 39.6 to 33 percent, and not to worry. The president would represent them himself.

"I got a little pay raise coming to Washington," the president said. "I'll be in the top bracket."

He scheduled a private lunch with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who endorsed a tax cut last month; released a letter to congressional leaders urging swift enactment of a "Patient's Bill of Rights" enabling the sick, the lame and the halt to sue their health-maintenance organizations, and today he'll visit a small business to talk up his tax cut as a way to avoid a Clinton recession and to enable low-income Americans to move into the middle class while there's still a middle class to move into.

George W.'s first fortnight has been a remarkable exercise. Someone asked the president yesterday what he made of his extraordinary visit over the weekend to the Democratic congressional retreat. "I think they listened," he replied. "They were very cordial. These are professionals who want to serve their nation."

Perhaps, but Democrats, like the town drunk, are loath to give up what they know best. Tom Daschle, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, complains that the Bush tax cut "shortchanges working families." Better to feel pain than relieve it. Giving up the past, whether class warfare or the presidency, is hard to do.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


02/02/01: A few small surprises and a large lesson
01/31/01: Serving fried crow in the press mess
01/26/01: The gathering storm over Jesse Jackson
01/23/01: A graceless getaway, a graceful beginning
01/19/01: Once more to wave the bloody shirt
01/16/01: Bring on the lions, the clowns are ready
01/12/01: The dastardly plot to restore slavery
01/10/01: Mr. Lott's generosity to the Dems
01/05/01: Looking to the past for a bad example
01/03/01: A modest proposal for Arkansas folk
12/19/00: The reflexive sneer at George W. Bush
12/15/00: Taking inspiration from John Birch
12/12/00: It's time to raise high Florida's standards
12/08/00: A President Bush, and about time, too
12/05/00: Here come the judge --- and he's got a hook
11/28/00: Cry no tears for Al, lawyers are the losers
11/21/00: The useful loathing of America's sons
11/17/00: When this is all over, we spray for lawyers
11/14/00: Something murky in the twilight zone

11/10/00: Something sinister in Palm Beach

11/07/00: Low days in the life of the ruptured duck

11/06/00: A little race baiting in the final hours

11/01/00: Creator gets a hard time on the hustings

10/27/00: The sorcerer rides to rescue his apprentice

10/25/00: The founding father with a story to tell

10/23/00: A lonely passion for religious rights

10/16/00: Spending blood on the folly of fools

10/11/00: A big night for the embellisher-in-chief

10/06/00: AlGore's black problem

10/04/00: In headlong pursuit of the bigot vote

10/02/00: A modest proposal for Rick Lazio

09/27/00: When folks at home give up on a scamp

09/25/00: Gore plot exposed! The secret minutes

09/18/00: Playing politics with the blood supply

09/14/00: Al sets out to find his 'tolerance level'

09/12/00: When it's time for a thumb in the eye

09/07/00: Making a daughter a campaign asset

09/04/00: A footnote to the lie: How he beats the rap

08/30/00: Unbearable lightness of a cyberjournal

08/21/00: Clinton chickens on AlGore's roost

08/16/00: The long goodbye to California's cash

08/09/00: Innocence by proxy is a risky scheme

08/07/00: After insulin shock, an authentic rouser

08/02/00: When it gets hard not to get a little giddy

07/31/00: George W.'s legions of summer soldiers

07/26/00: He's set a surprise --- or a trap for himself

07/24/00: How do you serve a turkey in August?

07/19/00: Would Hillary sling a lie about a slur?

07/17/00: Process, not peace, at a Velveeta summit

07/12/00: The Texas two-step, a nudge and a wink

07/10/00: The Great Mentioner and his busy season

07/05/00: No Mexican standoff in these results

07/03/00: Denting a few egos in the U.S. Senate

06/28/00: Bureaucracy amok! Punctuation in peril!

06/26/00: The water torture of American resolve

06/21/00: The happy hangman is a busy hangman

06/19/00: Dick Gephardt finds a Dixie dreamboat

06/14/00: Taking a byte out of innovation

06/12/00: 'Go away, little boy, you're bothering us'

06/07/00: When a little envy is painful to watch

06/05/00: Fire and thunder, bubble and squeak

05/31/00: South of the border, politics is pepper

05/26/00: Running out of luck with home folks

05/24/00: The heart says no, but the head says yes

05/22/00: A fine opportunity to set an example

05/17/00: The Sunday school for Republicans

05/15/00: Hillary's surrogate for telling tall tales

05/10/00: Listening to the voice of an authentic man

05/08/00: First a lot of bluster, then the retreat

05/02/00: Good news for Rudy, bad news for Hillary

04/28/00: The long goodbye to Elian's boyhood

04/25/00: Spooked by Castro, Bubba blinks

04/14/00: One flag down and two memorials to go

04/11/00: Consistency finds a jewel in Janet Reno

04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)

04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts

03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table

03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day

03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult

03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology

03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain

03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden