- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2000

Noble: The efforts made by the House of Representative toward fiscal responsibility this term.

Extracting a tax reflief from the budget behemoth is a rarely-seen feat in Washington, and as unexpected and delightful as a moment when the "real" Al Gore actually tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

This year taxpayers may actually experience a small taste of relief, since a few cuts may make it through the maw of President Clinton's potential veto.

According to Michele Davis, communications director for the majority leader's office, the telephone excise tax, which was levied in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American War should be revoked this year, saving taxpayers an estimated $5 billion.

The bill was part of a larger package, The American Values Tax Savings Plan for the 21st Century, which was introduced into the House last June and included a number of tax cuts such as marriage penalty relief, a phase-out of estate and gift taxes, and increased incentives for retirement savings plans.

While Mr. Clinton vetoed the marriage penalty relief and the phase-out of the estate tax, there is hope that he may still sign the Retirement Security Tax Relief Package, which would increase the amount Americans can put into Individualized Retirement Accounts (IRAs) from $2,000 to $5,000. The bill, which would save taxpayers approximately $17.7 billion over the next five years, passed the House by a 401 to 25 vote earlier this year and is awaiting action in the Senate.

Congress has also made an effort to ensure that 90 percent of this year's surplus (estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to total about $268 billion) will be used for debt reduction.

Knavish: The budget process. Despite the potential tax cuts, this year's budget bonfire is expected to burn an estimated (by the Congressional Budget Office) $1.8 trillion in spending, $625 billion of it in the 13 annual appropriations bills which have already either passed the House or been signed into law by Mr. Clinton.

Only two of those bills were signed before September, and now practically every legislator seems determined to grease the palms of every squeaking voter.

The House whip's notice for last Tuesday contains a whirlwind of spending: There were 32 suspensions (bills which must be passed by a two-thirds majority due to a 30 minute limit on debate), including H.R. 163, "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives with respect to postpartum depression," H.R. 4831, which will redesignate a Chicago post office as the "Roberto Clemente Post Office," H.R. 1042, the Drug Dealer Liability Act, H.R. 3292, the "Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge Establishment Act," and, H.R. 3621, "Providing for the posthumous promotion of William Clark, the leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, to the grade of captain in the Regular Army."

Perhaps Congress does need to act on these items. Certainly, every congressional district should have a post office named after a famous sports figure. Cat Island is probably covered with litter, and considering their occupational hazards, drug dealers need some form of liability protection. Perhaps members of Congress are simply trying to stake out some claims before Al Gore attempts to take credit for everything.

Congress might even want to take this a step further. Why stop with a captaincy for a dead expedition leader? Promote him to Gen. Clark and give him command of a regiment of troops from the Continental Army. The House could also combine H.R. 4831 with H.R. 1042 and start naming district government offices after famous sports criminals. After all, doesn't Dallas deserve a Michael Irvine post office?

It appears that once again, a vital part of the "People's business" has become the business of ensuring that very particular people are once again elected.

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