- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Coolidge Democrats

Robert B. Reich, the former Clinton administration labor secretary, groans when he hears the president and Democratic congressional leaders call for paying off the national debt.
"It would be one thing if the born-again, fiscally austere Democrats were speaking out of strong conviction backed by sound ideas. But the conviction is paper-thin. Eliminating the national debt has not been a plank of any Democratic economic program in living memory, and most Democrats who are now talking gravely about its importance have never uttered the words 'eliminate the debt' before," Mr. Reich writes in the New York Times.
"So why are Democrats sounding like Coolidge Republicans? Despite polls showing dwindling interest in tax cuts, the Democrats remain spooked by the possibility that voters will be attracted to ambitious Republican tax-cutting plans in the fall, and they haven't the confidence to build public support for an equally ambitious program centered on education and health care," Mr. Reich said.
"When the surpluses first began ballooning, the president dealt a body blow to Republican tax cutters by telling the public the choice was between cutting taxes or saving Social Security. But last year, as the surpluses continued to mount, the Republicans handed the president a $792 billion, 10-year tax cut that wouldn't touch Social Security revenues. The president vetoed that plan, but the die was cast.
"The White House felt it had no alternative but to play the debt card if the tax cutters were to be stopped in this election year. The rest of the Democratic establishment is falling into line."

Bush, Gore hold on

Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore continued to hold large leads over their party rivals in three national polls released Monday.
Mr. Bush led Arizona Sen. John McCain 56 percent to 34 percent in the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll. The other Republican candidates trailed far behind Alan Keyes garnered 3 percent and Steve Forbes had 2 percent.
The Zogby poll showed Mr. Bush ahead 48 percent to 30 percent. Mr. Forbes had 4 percent and Mr. Keyes, 3 percent.
The ABC-Washington Post poll gave Mr. Bush a 63 percent to 26 percent lead over Mr. McCain, with Mr. Forbes picking up 5 percent and Mr. Keyes 4 percent.
On the Democratic side, Vice President Gore led former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley 65 percent to 24 percent in the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll, 58 percent to 27 percent in the Zogby poll, and 73 percent to 25 percent in the ABC-Washington Post poll.

Unofficial endorsement

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush yesterday over his Senate colleague, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
The Mississippi Republican told reporters at his weekly stakeout that Mr. Bush has the "character, intelligence and leadership" to be president. Asked by reporters when he would make an endorsement, Mr. Lott responded, "What do you think that just was?"
Mr. Lott later tried to play down his comments, saying it wasn't an "official endorsement," but added that his praise of Mr. Bush was especially noteworthy because "time was when senators thought only senators should be president."

Trump's health plan

Still undecided over whether to leap into the presidential contest, developer Donald Trump is proposing that the unemployed be given vouchers to buy health care.
"Our current system is a complicated mess, which leads to many Americans without access to any affordable, quality health care," Mr. Trump said yesterday.
But the New York billionaire has said he is having serious doubts about whether the Reform Party can heal its own wounds, inflicted by factional infighting.
Mr. Trump will meet with advisers at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., this weekend to make his decision, said his strategist, Roger Stone. The reception Mr. Trump gets to his health care plan will be taken into consideration, Mr. Stone told the Associated Press.

Bush rebuffs NAACP

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has turned down an NAACP request to remove a Confederate plaque from the Texas Supreme Court building, according to a letter released Monday.
Mr. Bush who has stayed out of a Confederate flag controversy in South Carolina, where a critical primary looms in his run for the Republican presidential nomination favors putting a note alongside the plaque explaining why it is there, wrote Bush aide Clay Johnson in a letter to Gary Bledsoe, head of the Texas chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"Historical representations of six governments that have governed Texas in the past are displayed throughout the [state] Capitol complex. These symbols and emblems reflect the history and diversity that make Texas unique," Mr. Johnson said.
The plaque was put up in the 1950s to memorialize the fact that the court building was built with funds transferred from the state's Confederate Pension Fund and to honor Confederate soldiers, he said.
Mr. Bledsoe asked that the plaque, which depicts the Confederate battle flag and a quote from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, be removed because it is offensive to blacks.
Mr. Bledsoe told the Reuters news agency he was not pleased with Mr. Bush's response on the Supreme Court plaque and would ask him to reconsider.
"Hate symbols have no place on the walls of our highest court," Mr. Bledsoe said.

Gore performs

Vice President Al Gore presented himself to New York City's theatrical set on stage Monday night at Lincoln Center and over cocktails, to mixed reviews.
"He's long-winded," decided Spalding Gray, the actor, after hearing Mr. Gore at a Madison Avenue reception promoted by his daughter, Karenna. The vice president waxed on and on about the arts and democracy and "artists who give voice to the unheard voice."
"The Sopranos" actress Lorraine Bracco and musicians Melissa Etheridge and Thelonious Monk Jr. were there, too, at the Municipal Arts Society, the Associated Press reports.
Mr. Gore assured them all that he supports government funds for the arts because "the arts are like air and water."
"We need them to live healthy lives," he said.
The vice president did better at Lincoln Center, where he won a standing ovation just for entering the Great Stage at Avery Fisher Hall. With Secret Service agents hovering at stage right, the man who would be America's 43rd president narrated Aaron Copland's "Lincoln Portrait," a tribute to the 16th president.
Mr. Gore was given this unusual opportunity to court New Yorkers particularly homosexual activists (the New York City Gay Men's Chorus sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") in advance of the state's influential March 7 presidential primary by his friend, Marty Peretz, a concert sponsor and editor of the New Republic magazine, aides said.

Buchanan on Haider

Neither the United States nor Europe should fear Austria's new rightist government, Reform Party presidential candidate Pat Buchanan said last night.
At a Richmond campaign stop, Mr. Buchanan accused the European Union of hypocrisy and arrogance for freezing diplomatic relations with Austria after Jeorg Haider's nationalist Freedom Party was sworn in last week.
He said the EU had "willingly climbed into bed with genuine fascists and people who are Stalinists and Communists."
"I think the European Union would have been better off to accept the decision of the people of Austria and move on," Mr. Buchanan told about 45 people at a fund-raising reception.
"I do not see any threat to Europe or the world or anywhere from Mr. Haider or that coalition government sitting in Vienna," Mr. Buchanan said. "But it is an indication, I think, that any candidate of the right can expect universal hostility."
Mr. Haider has opposed immigration and European integration.
"He is an opponent of their whole global new world order," Mr. Buchanan said of Mr. Haider.
Mr. Haider lauded the Third Reich's "orderly employment" and praised ex-members of Adolf Hitler's Waffen SS. He has apologized for those comments.

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