- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 15, 2001

When Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle declared class warfare on President Bush's tax cuts, you could almost hear laid-off autoworkers grinding their teeth in anger at the South Dakota liberal.

Mr. Daschle is a master of the art of demagoguery, and he was playing it to the hilt at his news conference last week in front of the Capitol. He used a luxurious, fully loaded Lexus GS300 as his political prop. Millionaires who benefited from Mr. Bush's across-the-board tax cut would "get a $46,000 tax cut, more than enough to pay for this Lexus," he said.

Then, holding up a spare auto part, Mr. Daschle said that "if you're a typical working person, you get $227, and that's enough to buy this muffler."

What a load of malarkey. Yes, millionaires would get a large tax cut, but they pay a lot in taxes. The top 20 percent of income earners, after all, pay most of the taxes. But ordinary workers pay a lot of taxes, too, and they would get a sizable tax cut under the president's plan. In fact, lower-income taxpayers would get a tax cut that's larger as a percentage of their incomes than the one wealthier people would get.

When fully phased in over six years, a middle-class, two-earner couple with two children making $60,000 a year would get a $1,900 tax cut each year. They would get $380 in tax cuts in the first year.

Add Mr. Bush's proposed doubling of the $500-per-child tax credit, which Mr. Daschle conveniently leaves out of his disingenuous Lexus example, and this same couple would get an additional $1,000 tax cut.

Under Mr. Bush's plan, everyone who pays income taxes would get something back. And since Mr. Bush would make the tax cuts retroactive to Jan. 1, 2001, taxpayers could be sent a refund or would see their tax withholding rates adjusted downward.

But the plan has another benefit, one Mr. Daschle prefers to ignore in his demagogic attack. Ordinary workers stand to gain from the tax cuts in another very fundamental way: jobs, economic growth and prosperity for all our citizens.

What Mr. Daschle doesn't say is that if that millionaire or anyone else bought a Lexus or another luxury car made in America as a result of the Bush tax cuts, it would help to put ordinary working people back to work on automobile-industry assembly lines across this country.

Mr. Daschle seems to be fixated on the $46,000 tax cut that a millionaire might get. Why isn't he more concerned about the tens of thousands of autoworkers who have been laid off in the past few months? What about their families?

This isn't about a $227 tax cut. This is about the average autoworker, who earns $45,000 a year. Many earn closer to $80,000 or more with overtime. United Auto Workers union members have lost 31,000 jobs in the past year. Chrysler announced 18,400 job cuts in the past month.

Actually, it's about many more jobs than that. One in every 7 jobs in this country, totaling 14 million workers, is related to the auto industry.

This should not be about class warfare or class envy, as Mr. Daschle wants us to think. It should be about Economics 101. And more than the cost of a muffler is at stake. When taxes are cut, people will have more money to spend, save and invest. That will help the U.S. economy recover from its severe anemia and help people climb the economic ladder.

Instead of bashing tax cuts for people who might buy a luxury car, maybe Mr. Daschle should think for a moment that these are cars made, sold, serviced or shipped by ordinary, hard-working Americans whose jobs and economic security depend on people with money buying them. And he should remember that car sales are down because the U.S. economy is skirting a recession.

Instead of pitting one income group against another, let Mr. Daschle take his demagogic road show to Buffalo, W.Va., where Toyota will soon begin producing engines and transmissions for the Lexus RX 300 sport utility vehicle.

Somehow, I do not think the people of Buffalo, W.Va., are shocked or sorry that someone who cannot afford a new Lexus, powered by engines they will make, might be able to buy one as a result of lower taxes. Ditto for the unemployed autoworkers in Michigan or anywhere else in the country, for that matter.

Auto sales may be just a statistic to Mr. Daschle, whose job does not depend on whether someone buys a car. But they are part of the lifeblood of an economy that is in dire need of Mr. Bush's tax cuts to restore its health.

Why is Mr. Daschle so dead set against cutting tax rates, which would use up about 7 percent of federal tax revenue over the coming decade? Because he thinks he knows how to spend the surpluses better than you do.

God forbid, Mr. Daschle says, that someone who makes a lot of money might go out and buy a Cadillac and help ordinary working people keep their jobs. This is class-envy demagoguery at its worst. It didn't work in the 2000 elections. It won't work now.

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