- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2001

People are impressed that President Bush has withstood intimidation by the political left. He did not cut and run, and is sticking to his course. He moved forward by submitting his tax-rate-reduction bill prior to staffing his government.

Mr. Bush is trying to lead our country. His success and ours will depend on the maturity of the American people. After decades of brainwashing by left-wing-dominated universities, entertainment, and print and TV media, the American people might experience difficulties responding to Mr. Bush's leadership.

A great deal has been lost over the past half-century. When you think about the erosion in shared beliefs, culture, moral behavior, political and religious values and the legal system, there are few positive points where a president can anchor leadership.

Politicians in the Democratic Party base their leadership on denunciation. They lead by arousing emotions against enemies racists, sexists, homophobes, polluters, the "religious right," big business, "the rich," the "white hegemonic order," gun owners, Big Tobacco, militarism and the United States itself, in the case of the Vietnam War.

Republicans can't replicate this style of leadership. It is difficult to imagine politicians attacking atheists, immoralists, sexual promiscuity, anti-Americanism, the deconstruction of truth, fact, meaning and scholarship, myth-making as an academic exercise, propaganda as news, and the National Organization for Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as lobbyists for privileges and unequal rights.

Republicans don't have the armies of university professors, reporters, editorialists, publishing houses and Hollywood entertainers to demonize their opponents. It is difficult for politicians to attack those who have not been set up for attack. Democrats were able to vote en mass against confirming John Ashcroft as attorney general, because feminist, minority and anti-religious interest groups did the dirty work of turning Mr. Ashcroft into an ogre.

There's no one to make ogres out of Democrats. Attorney General Janet Reno repeatedly did not enforce the law despite protests from the director of the FBI and Justice Department officials because she deemed it more important to protect Bill Clinton and Al Gore. She was clearly corrupt, but her corruption could not become an issue. In contrast, Mr. Ashcroft had to endure the humiliation of repeatedly expressed skepticism that he would enforce the law.

The inability to demonize their opponents puts Republicans at a great disadvantage in an era in which Democrats lead by denouncing wrongs and wrongdoers. This political disability has caused Republicans to mute their own policy approaches in deference to the Democrats' propaganda successes.

Thus, while moving ahead with his tax-reduction bill, Mr. Bush has deferred to Democrats by providing those who pay most of the taxes the least relief. The top 1 percent of taxpayers pay 34.8 percent of federal personal income taxes. Mr. Bush proposes to cut their top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, a reduction of 16.6 percent. In other words, "the rich" are receiving in tax relief less than half of their contribution to the surplus.

In contrast, the poor, who pay very little of the personal income tax, are receiving a 33.3 percent reduction in tax rates (from 15 percent to 10 percent). As the bottom half of taxpayers only pay 4.2 percent of the federal income tax, the poor are receiving a tax rate reduction that is 8 times their contribution to the surplus.

A fair tax cut would keep the relative burden the same by cutting everyone's rates by the same percentage. Mr. Bush's tax cut redistributes income from the top to the bottom by redistributing the tax burden from the bottom to the top. Mr. Bush's tax bill is unfair because it does too little for "the rich," not because it does too much as Democrats claim.

Nothing better illustrates the power of left-wing propaganda than the ability of Democrats to characterize a tax bill that discriminates against the rich as one that favors the rich.

Republicans are impotent in the face of the Democrats' assault on fact. The media floods our consciousness with lies. Public debate is so distorted by misrepresentations that Republicans are afraid to propose a fair tax cut.

The success of Ronald Reagan's tax cut argues for a repeat performance, but President Bush's bill is timid by comparison. Mr. Bush's plan phases in a much smaller reduction in tax rates over a much longer time. Over five years, Mr. Bush's bill lowers people's tax rates about 1 percentage point per year.

Such timidity is a sure sign that Democrats rule even when they are not in office.

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