- The Washington Times - Monday, October 14, 2002

Completely bereft of ideas about how to stimulate short-term and long-term economic growth, Democratic congressional leaders have renewed their demands that President Bush convene an economic summit. What utter nonsense.
It is easy to understand why Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, both presidential aspirants, have called for a "summit" at the White House. (Talk about seeking a level playing field.) Moreover, they no doubt recall the last time congressional Democratic leaders tried that gambit. In 1990, they succeeded in forcing President George H.W. Bush to accept a tax increase following an economic summit with the White House. Not only did Democrats get the president to break his no new taxes promise, thus alienating his strongest supporters, but they managed to do so in the middle of a recession.
More recently, congressional Democratic leaders have demonstrated that they still don't understand the conduct of sound economic policy. Mr. Daschle, for example, is on record attributing the recent recession to Mr. Bush's tax-relief program that passed a bipartisan Congress. The first problem with Mr. Daschle's nonsensical economic theory is that the economy began its decline during the first quarter last year, while the tax cut was not signed until June 2001. The second problem is that the tax cut was precisely the counter-cyclical policy that a declining economy needed. In fact, rarely has tax-relief enactment ever been more timely.
Why are Democrats talking about the economy when they have no rational critique relating to current policy? And why are they demanding a summit when they have no solutions to offer? Messrs. Daschle and Gephardt and former Vice President Al Gore cannot even muster the courage of their convictions. Despite condemning the bipartisan tax cut, none of them has called for its repeal.
What passes for the Democrats' economic program is nothing more than the governmental mandates and tax-and-spend proposals that they have advocated for decades, irrespective of how the economy is performing. They complain about unemployment, but they want to legislate an increase in the minimum wage. And they have a seemingly limitless number of federal spending initiatives. Democrats seek to add a colossal new entitlement for prescription drugs for seniors to an unreformed Medicare program. Unable to make tough choices between guns and butter when the nation is preparing for war and facing huge costs for homeland security, Democrats reflexively demand giant increases in federal aid to education on top of the massive increases of recent years.
"A summit is not an economic plan," Greg Crist, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Dick Armey, told Donald Lambro of The Washington Times the other day. "Democrats do not have a single idea other than raising taxes, so they want to turn to a summit to give them cover to raise taxes." Precisely. And that explains how worthless the proposal truly is.


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