- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

Stop those tax cuts
Robert Rubin, who served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, set out his program to restore economic confidence yesterday in an op-ed piece published in The Washington Post.
Although Mr. Rubin began his commentary discussing accounting and corporate governance and ended it with a call for trade liberalization, those subjects appeared to be mere window dressing for his central idea elimination of future Bush tax cuts.
"The portion of the 10-year tax cut that occurred in the short term may well serve a useful expansionary purpose at a time of economic weakness, but the great preponderance of this tax cut occurs in outer years," Mr. Rubin said.
"Moreover, nobody is talking about a tax increase; the question is whether the cuts enacted for later years should be canceled. In my view, all matters pertaining to taxes and spending should be on the table, with a commitment to reestablishing a sound long-term fiscal position for the federal government."
Mr. Rubin wasn't the only Democrat calling for abandonment of the Bush tax cuts yesterday. Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean, in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," denounced the tax cuts as "voodoo economics," adding: "Supply-side economics does not work, and what's happening on Wall Street today is a perfect example of that."
However, while Mr. Rubin suggested that bypassing scheduled tax cuts would restore "fiscal discipline" and perhaps a balanced budget, Mr. Dean made it clear that he would spend the money "on decent roads, decent schools and a decent health care system."

Party pooper
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay was obviously taken aback in an interview on CNN's "Saturday Edition" when host Jonathan Karl told him about a "prominent Republican pollster" who is worried that public concerns about the economy, stock market and corporate corruption could cost the Republican control of the House in this year's elections.
"He's somebody who even on occasion advised you," Mr. Karl said of the pollster he did not identify.
"He says that we could see something similar to 1994, with the Republicans this time getting swept out of power."
Asked if he's worried the Democrats could regain control of the House, Mr. DeLay, Texas Republican, said: "I'd like to know who you're talking to, because I don't see that at all. And if it's somebody who does work for me, I need to talk to him."
Mr. DeLay said Republican candidates are "doing incredibly well" in congressional districts with real races. "We've had probably the best recruiting year that we've had in many, many a year. Our candidates are on the ground doing fantastically well. Every incumbent, especially our vulnerable incumbents, are leading double digits in their internal polls," said the whip, who's expected to succeed fellow Texan, Rep. Dick Armey, as House majority leader by year's end.
Mr. DeLay added: "We feel very confident that we already have the majority in the bag, and we're working hard to grow our majority. We think we're going to pick up some seats not very many. But we could pick up anywhere from five to 10 seats."

Credibility gap
Rep. Tom DeLay, in an interview on CNN's "Saturday Edition," was asked by host Jonathan Karl if Congress doesn't have a "credibility problem" when it lectures corporate America, given its own track record "with its own books."
Mr. Karl offered the following examples of slick federal accounting and appropriations practices:
"Congress, in the last budget last year, classified $4.5 billion for the census as emergency spending. We've been doing a census since 1790. They also shifted a military payday from the first day of 2001 to the last day of 2000, creating savings of $2.3 billion that wasn't there. And they also shifted a corporate tax deadline from the end of 2000 to the beginning of 2001. That move created an extra $23 billion in mythical income for the federal government."
Mr. Karl said those practices are "almost exactly the kind of thing Enron and WorldCom are accused of, this kind of moving of numbers around to make one year look better than the other."
Mr. DeLay did not disagree, and he readily acknowledged "those kinds of actions cause a credibility problem."
"But we're trying to stop them. We fight every day against the big spenders in Congress to stop the cooking of the books, to stop playing games as you described. In most cases, we're able to stop them," said the Texas Republican, the House's third-in-command.

Objectivity questioned
Texas Rep. Dick Armey, the majority leader, dismissed a report in the New York Times that House Republicans are growing nervous over the party's election prospects in the wake of corporate scandals and a declining stock market.
"I have to tell you, the New York Times joins with the Democrat Party in wishing us failure in the next election and the Democrats a success. They write their stories for those purposes. We responded to [corporate accounting misdeeds] in April. We have waited now all this time while the Democrats waited for the political issue to ripen," Mr. Armey said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
While Mr. Armey questioned the objectivity of the New York Times, Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean, on the same program, dismissed an editorial in The Washington Times that described the recently enacted farm bill as pork-barrel spending for "multimillionaire hobby farms and large, well-heeled corporations," including David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan Bank, media mogul Ted Turner, NBA player Scottie Pippen, Chevron, John Hancock, DuPont and Caterpillar.
"Well, I'm not terribly sure The Washington Times qualifies as an objective way to look at the farm bill," Mr. Dean, a supporter of the legislation, said after host Tim Russert read a portion of the editorial.
However, Mr. Russert pointed out that almost "any paper in the country practically outside the Farm Belt" shared The Washington Times' view of the legislation.

Nickles' doubts
Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and minority whip, expressed doubt yesterday that the Senate will pass a prescription drug plan for seniors. He blamed Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
"I hope that we can pass something. But unfortunately, Senator Daschle's changing the order in the Senate" by bypassing the Finance Committee and blocking a bipartisan plan that would appear to have majority support on the floor, Mr. Nickles said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
The senator also pooh-poohed the idea that legislation to regulate corporate accounting will help revive the sagging stock market.
"I don't think that's going to rescue the market. When we pass the [House-Senate compromise] bill, I don't think you're going to see a big surge in Dow Jones," Mr. Nickles said.

Pay-raise defense
House Majority Leader Dick Armey yesterday defended new pay raises for Congress, saying lawmakers work hard and deserve more money.
House members cleared the way last week for a 3.3 percent cost-of-living increase. If the raise of about $5,000 a year goes into effect in January, it would be the fourth in four years and boost annual salaries of rank-and-file members of Congress to about $155,000.
"I don't know why anybody in America would say, 'Mr. Big Shot, get yourself elected to Congress, and then be stupid enough to deny yourself the pay and benefits that your job warrants,'" the Texas Republican said.
"It's bizarre that people would have that kind of an unrealistic expectation of hard-working people," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Mr. Armey, who is retiring after this year, said the formula gives members of Congress smaller cost-of-living increases than government workers. Raises go into effect automatically unless lawmakers vote to block them.

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