- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

As everyone in America knows, September 11 forever changed our nation. A blow of diabolic proportion and inspiration has shaken us as a nation and a people. Its reverberations are still being felt, its toll still being calculated. We know the human tragedy all too well. We foresee the now-begun military struggle all too clearly. Yet in our grief and our resolve, it is all too easy to overlook the full extent of the damage done.
Just as the terrorist strike was aimed not only at New York, Washington and Pennsylvania but our whole nation, so was it aimed at every aspect of our society including our economy.
Many private forecasters saw signs of recovery from the economic downturn that began more than a year ago. The terrorist attack has pushed back that recovery. There is no doubt it will come, but there are things that we can and should do to hasten its arrival.
To that end, the president has laid out a battle plan for quickly restoring America's economic growth. It is balanced, it is fair, it will provide immediate help and it is fiscally responsible. The president's plan is composed of four major elements.
To reassure American consumers who have kept our economy growing, it accelerates the tax rate reductions enacted in this June's bipartisan tax cut. When that bill passed, it seemed affordable to wait five years to fully implement its changes for all income taxpayers. Now we know it would help to return these taxpayers' dollars even faster in order to make sure this money stays in their families, in the private sector and in our economy where it can do the most good.
Because of the special threat we face, the president also proposes tax relief to moderate- and low-income families. This will provide a spur to our economy by helping these families at a time when they may be facing financial uncertainty.
Headlines about workers being laid off and companies' production falling nationwide have been all too common in the last two months. The president's plan has two provisions that will counter this one-two punch that threatens to "KO" our economic recovery.
To make sure companies continue to increase their productivity, the president proposes a tax cut that encourages businesses to invest. His proposal allows companies to immediately "expense" or deduct a sizable percentage of new investments. That not only helps to increase tomorrow's productivity but creates new jobs today. Businesses of every size will more easily be able to afford the equipment they need to produce better products and create new jobs. At the same time, this will create new demand and new jobs in the companies selling this new equipment. That's a dual-edged sword that America needs to be wielding right now.
Finally, the president proposes that the onerous tax law that forces companies to pay higher taxes even when they are watching their profits shrink be permanently repealed. The alternative minimum tax (AMT) not only adds unnecessary complexity to our tax system, it also punishes companies at precisely the worst time by making them pay higher taxes than the ordinary law would require. By making taxes artificially higher, companies make less investment and workers face more layoffs precisely what we want to avoid right now. The effect of this bizarre law in the aftermath of September 11 is to not only kick a company when it is down, but to kick our economy as well.
Combined with the new spending to aid our recovery that has been enacted since September 11 and the Federal Reserve's interest rate cuts since January, President Bush's economic stimulus proposal constitutes an economic battle plan to speed America's return to prosperity.
It is no secret that the terrorists who attacked us want to pull down the United States not just as a government but as a society. It was not by accident that they simultaneously struck our political and financial capitals. Just as our government and our economy stand together to ensure our prosperity and freedom, so the terrorists aimed to cause our nation's collapse by striking at both.
The terrorists' insidious goal is not to raise themselves but to pull America down. We are at war with those who seek no less than to destroy our way of life. We must therefore fight, not just by guaranteeing our military supremacy, but our economic as well. The president has laid out a plan by which to do this. Congress should follow it with quick passage.

J.T. Young is a deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury.

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