- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 29, 2001

White House economist Lawrence Lindsey yesterday said Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's opposition to President Bush's economic agenda is "an abdication of responsibility" at a time when America is in a war and a recession.
In a sharply escalated attack on Mr. Daschle's stewardship of the Senate, Mr. Bush's chief economic adviser criticized the majority leader for delaying action on an economic-stimulus bill and blocking or killing Mr. Bush's proposals on energy development, trade promotion and terrorism insurance.
"This is an abdication of responsibility. Here we have a war on and a national emergency with the country in a recession and the stimulus bill gets waylaid in the Senate, the energy bill gets waylaid by the Senate, the terrorism insurance bill is not allowed to be marked up, and there is no action on a trade bill. So I would have to question his priorities," Mr. Lindsey said.
Instead of acting on Mr. Bush's broader economic agenda at a time of rising unemployment and economic decline in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Mr. Lindsey complained that Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, was taking up legislation that he characterized as "the wrong priorities."
"Mr. Daschle has not moved on energy, economic stimulus, terrorism insurance and trade. But he moves the railroad retirement bill, which certainly is not a pressing national need and never has been," he said.
"Here's another example of how his priorities are wrong," said Mr. Lindsey. "The current agriculture bill does not expire until September 30 of next year. So no one can say it is a pressing national emergency. It isn't needed for another 10 months."
With the midterm congressional election campaigns to officially begin in January, the pending $178 billion farm bill was being pushed by Senate Democratic leaders to help their most vulnerable farm state incumbents who are up for re-election next year.
The railroad pension bill is being championed by the AFL-CIO, one of the Democrats' biggest campaign contributors.
As House and Senate leaders met last night in an attempt to break the impasse on the stimulus bill, Mr. Lindsey and other conservative tax cutters questioned whether a watered-down compromise bill, loaded with new spending, would have much stimulative effect on the economy.
Mr. Lindsey and Treasury Secretary Paul H. O'Neill have said that the stimulus bill must be close to the largely tax-cutting plan that Mr. Bush proposed and that the House has passed.
But when asked yesterday if a $75 billion compromise-stimulus plan offered by Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, which contains $33 billion in new spending, was close to what Mr. Bush wanted, Mr. Lindsey said, "I don't believe so."
Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, was among a growing group of lawmakers who in the past week have said they could not vote for a stimulus that included some of the spending Democrats want without an acceleration of the income-tax cuts that Mr. Bush wants.
"We are going to have to pay off the Democrats to get a stimulus package and the president has already made a substantial payment by agreeing to give tax cuts to non-taxpayers with the added rebates," Mr. Gramm said.
"But if it is clear that we will not get accelerated income-tax-rate reduction, then I say this thing is not worth the price," he said.
Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, which contributes money to lawmakers who vote for tax cuts, agreed.
"If we don't get tax rate or capital-gains cuts or repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax for corporations, then this is going to be more of a negative for the economy than a stimulus," he said.


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