- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2000

Unable to compete on character or charisma, Vice President Gore has chosen to wage his campaign for the presidency on the issues, to which we Republicans say, "bring it on." We have been winning on the issues all year in Congress because President Clinton, Mr. Gore and the Democratic leadership are badly out of touch with mainstream America.
For example, Republicans, and 59 percent of the American people, support personal accounts as the core of Social Security reform Al Gore calls that "risky." On tax policy, Republicans want to eliminate the marriage tax penalty, as do 71 percent of the American people. The Clinton/Gore administration vetoed the bill. Republicans want to eliminate the death tax. Sixty-five Democrats joined with Republicans in the House to repeal the death tax, while eight Democrats in the Senate did so. Clinton/Gore? Another veto.
What Mr. Gore and his old-school allies do not understand is that the death tax exists solely to perpetuate class warfare and that this kind of old, negative "soak the rich" rhetoric just doesn't work any more than does attacking one "big" industry after another. The American people aren't interested in someone who bases his political cachet on pitting one group against another. They want someone who will lead the country by healing the breaches, not by expanding them.
This is also one reason Mr. Gore's attacks on Mr. Bush's tax plan will ultimately fail. Continuing with the divisive class warfare approach, Mr. Gore complains that the bulk of Mr. Bush's tax relief goes to upper-income taxpayers. The fact is that over half of tax relief of the Bush tax plan goes to reducing the lowest tax bracket from 15 percent to 10 percent for lower-income taxpayers and to doubling the per child tax credit. Thus, Mr. Gore is not only wrong on the approach, he is wrong on the facts.
The centerpiece of Mr. Bush's tax cut plan is a simple, broad reduction in marginal tax rates. In addition to the new 10 percent bracket, the 28 percent rate drops to 25 percent, the 31 percent rate is abolished and the top rate drops from 39.6 percent to 33 percent. These rate cuts are augmented by the increase in the per child tax credit to $1,000, allowing non-itemizers to take a charitable deduction, reducing the marriage tax penalty and repealing the death tax. This plan is so simple and so balanced that the worst The Washington Post, in a recent article, could say about it is that "the Bush plan would make the tax code less complex, but not any more progressive." Amen to that.
In contrast, Mr. Gore's tax plan is very much in line with the tax philosophy Mr. Clinton has embraced over his administration. The Clinton/Gore tax philosophy is to manipulate economic incentives to achieve whatever goals and ends are right in their eyes. Thus he has a new savings deduction to add to the already confusing array of savings incentives. Encouraging saving is meritorious, but this means you only get the tax relief if you obey Mr. Gore's implicit edict to save and if you are willing to jump through the hoops to qualify. He has another tax credit to help cover the costs of long-term care. This credit would be available to help cover the costs of any individuals who have three or more limitations in activities of daily living or a cognitive impairment and require assistance. Only a policy wonk would think this is good tax policy. The goal is laudable, but tax cuts should not be predicated on the existence of a cognitive impairment.
When government goes beyond its basic functions to take on the role of director of national resources and individual decisions, then government becomes the primary impediment to prosperity. If more government bureaucrats spurred economic growth, the Soviet Union would be making loans to the United States rather than our making loans to an impoverished Russia. The source of our prosperity in America is our creativity and the freedom to take advantage of new opportunities and new technologies.
That is why Mr. Bush's tax plan is precisely in line with the new economy, while Mr. Gore's reinforces the old economy. Mr. Gore would micromanage while Mr. Bush's lowering of marginal tax rates serves to free taxpayers from the untoward influence of taxation. Reducing marginal tax rates is the very antithesis of the Gore planning approach.
Reducing marginal tax rates pares back the tax code's disincentives to work, to save and to invest. High marginal tax rates discourage people from working. They are also anti-education because they discourage people from continuing their education or going back to school because any extra income they might earn will be subject to a higher tax rate. High marginal tax rates discourage businesses from investing in new plants and equipment. When you reduce marginal tax rates, people are less inclined to take taxes into account when they arrange their affairs, and businesses are less inclined to let taxes dictate when, where and how much to invest.
Mr. Clinton has vetoed the bipartisan marriage tax penalty relief bill and the bipartisan death tax repeal. With Mr. Bush in the White House, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the very first bill to reach his desk is marriage tax penalty relief followed closely by the death tax repeal bill followed by the balance of the Bush tax cut program. Under President George W. Bush's leadership, we will in very short order begin to modernize our old tax system for the new economy.

Rep. Philip M. Crane is an Illinois Republican.

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