- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

In an obviously desperate attempt to change the debate in Congress from war authorization to class warfare, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle attacked the economic record of the Bush administration on Monday. During a 35-minute temper tantrum staged on the Senate floor, Mr. Daschle described the administration's economic policies as "tragic, deplorable, abysmal."

Not only did Mr. Daschle utterly ignore the self-evident facts of the recent business cycle, but he also repeated his peculiar ideas about economic theory. Once again Mr. Daschle blamed last year's tax-relief legislation, which the president initiated and the Senate passed in a bipartisan vote, for "the tragic set of financial and economic circumstances that we are witnessing today."

Since the weeks immediately preceding Mr. Bush's inauguration last year, partisan Democrats have never allowed facts to get in the way of their misinterpretation of economic history. Recall how Democrats reacted then to Vice President-elect Dick Cheney's sensible observation that the economy may have already fallen into recession. History now confirms that Mr. Cheney's analysis was right on the money. Everyone now knows that economic output began contracting during last year's first quarter and continued to decline for the next two.

Given that the annual rate of economic growth had collapsed from more than 6 percent during the second half of 1999 to less than 1 percent during the second half of 2000, only a person blinded by partisanship could fail to acknowledge the fact that the recession actually began before Mr. Bush entered office. Similarly, for the stock market collapse, notwithstanding Mr. Daschle's tirade equating Mr. Bush with Herbert Hoover, the Dow Jones industrial average peaked in January 2000, and the Nasdaq bubble burst two months later. It is also worth noting that fictitious profit figures reported by the Clinton-Gore Commerce Department were in no small measure responsible for the stock-market bubble in the first place.

Mr. Daschle, of course, has not relied solely on the weak economy to wage his class warfare in recent days. He also has attempted to score political points over the fallout from the accounting scandals that have exploded this year. As this page has meticulously outlined, however, the genesis of those scandals occurred long before Messrs. Bush and Cheney took office.

Conspicuously absent from Mr. Daschle's tantrum were any recommendations to correct the economic problems that, according to his perceptions, spontaneously began on Jan. 20, 2001. He even refused to call for a rollback of the tax cut he believes caused the recession, which, as it happens, began nearly half a year before the tax cut was signed.

Nor was there any acknowledgement by Mr. Daschle that the Senate's failure to pass a budget resolution the first time that has happened since the budget process was reformed in 1974 has significantly contributed to the out-of-control spending binges in Congress. Moreover, unlike the Republican-controlled House, the Senate, under what passes for Mr. Daschle's leadership, has failed to re-authorize welfare-reform; has not passed a prescription-drug benefit for senior citizens and the disabled; has not passed a pension-reform bill; and has yet to pass homeland-security legislation. Thus, there is no escaping the conclusion by White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels, who described Mr. Daschle's recent tirade as the latest in "a pattern of total default of leadership."


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