- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2001

In his effort to eradicate the threat of terrorism from the globe and help Americans recover from the wounds inflicted on the nation last week, President Bush addressed Congress and the nation last night. The speech came at the defining moment of his young presidency; the daunting task before him is to prepare the nation for the prolonged fight against the forces of darkness. Mr. Bush and his team of foreign policy veterans have already demonstrated superior leadership in this time of national crisis, and they have received strong bipartisan support from Congress, which has empowered the chief executive with both the funding and the powers necessary. Equally importantly, Mr. Bush had to convince Americans that there may be sacrifices to be made here at home.
Earlier this week, Mr. Bush signed a congressional bill, which passed almost unanymously, authorizing him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to combat terrorism as well as a unanimous congressional bill authorizing $40 billion in federal aid for the victims of the attack. These measures make it certain that the Social Security surplus (the so-called "lock-box") will have to be raided. Mr. Bush had specified earlier in his term that the surplus would not be spent except in the case of a national emergency, a war or a recession. The first two conditions have certainly been formally declared, even if the last has not. "This is an emergency, the likes of which we have not seen in a long time in this country," Mr. Bush stated previously, "and this government will come together and deal with it."
There is little doubt that last week's devastating attack will affect an already punch-drunk economy. Although "the foundations of our free society remain sound," as Alan Greenspan reminded Congress yesterday, certain sectors, such as the airline industry, have been especially hard hit. While the administration and the Congress should avoid a rush to bailout, prudent measures could and should be taken.
A cut in the capital gains tax is much-needed, while a "reconsideration" of the Bush tax cut (as suggested by the New York Times) should be unthinkable. Indeed, another just like it may well be in order. Congress should also look into accelerating business depreciation allowances. Most importantly though, Congress must show fiscal restraint instead of authorizing the innumerable costly earmarks that so corrupted last year's budget.
Such measures will help the nation's economy recover and its people rebuild. Aiding those who have already suffered grievous losses will do so as well. Long ago, Abraham Lincoln reminded us of the importance of caring "for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan." There is much that federal money can do, even though private charities, such as the newly created "American Liberty Partnership," which Mr. Bush helped launch, have already stepped up in an unprecedented way. It is also time to step up funding for the common defense and the long offensive. Brave Americans are already being shipped overseas for what appears to be the opening move of Operation Infinite Justice. We join with the president in wishing them godspeed … and good hunting.

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