- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

No sooner had President Bush unveiled his bold economic stimulus and growth proposals Tuesday in Chicago than the New York Times dispatched a photographer to the president's previous home base of Austin, Texas. Before sundown, the photographer had located the Moorheads, a family that would have made Norman Rockwell reach for the paint.

There they were Mr. and Mrs. Moorhead and their three extremely photogenic children splashed across the top of page A17 in a 51-square-inch photo, by far the largest the Times published in its national section that day. The caption: "Bee and Robert Moorhead of Austin, Tex., with their children, from left, Owen, Ethan and Oona, said the president's plan was unimpressive."

Unimpressive? Yes, indeed. And just so the reader got the point, here's how reporter Edmund L. Andrews described the views of the only real-life family profiled in the article. "For Robert and Bee Moorhead of Austin, Tex., who together earn about $88,000, the Bush plan is not impressive," Mr. Andrews reported. "Though they both have good jobs she as a director of a nonprofit group and he as a multimedia developer at a textbook publisher they have only about $1,000 in stocks and virtually no dividend income."

Other than the fact that he knew he would not currently benefit from the president's proposal to eliminate the double taxation of dividends, Mr. Moorhead clearly had no idea how his family would be affected by the president's stimulus plan. And, evidently, the Times had no intention of informing him. Why get in the way of a great quote? "They're trying to sell this once again as trickle-down economics," Mr. Moorhead conveniently observed, using the favorite pejorative of the Democrats and the Times to ridicule Reaganomics, an economic program that ignited a two-decade-long economic boom at the close of the 20th century. "I have my doubts," Mr. Moorhead added.

As it happens, the Times' poster family would make a killing under the Bush plan. Effective immediately. No, sooner than that. Effective Jan. 1. No fewer than four separate tax cuts would shave more than 30 percent off the Moorheads' federal income-tax bill. Assuming the Moorheads take the standard deduction (in terms of absolute tax relief, the calculations make little difference if they itemize their deductions), the Editorial Page of The Washington Times has prepared 1040s for the Moorheads under current law and under the Bush plan. Their federal income taxes would plunge nearly $3,000, falling from about $9,600 to about $6,600.

• Rather than incrementally eliminate the marriage penalty from 2005 through 2009, the Bush plan eliminates it immediately. By our calculations, that would save the Moorheads $1,522.50. This is the amount of income taxes they currently pay above what they would be paying if they were cohabitating. (The New York Times refers to this outrage as "the so-called marriage penalty.")

• The Bush plan would increase the per-child tax credit from $600 to $1,000. The Moorheads would receive their $1,200 windfall (three children at $400 each) in a rebate check.

• The Moorheads would pocket another $154 because their top marginal tax rate of 27 percent would be reduced to 25 percent.

• The Moorheads would save another $100, as the income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket was increased from $12,000 to $14,000.

Before the latest Bush initiative permitting the Moorheads to keep an extra $3,000 from their earnings in their pockets, previous Bush tax cuts had already saved the Moorhead family more than $1,000 a year. That comes to a $4,000 annual tax savings that would become effective less than two years after Mr. Bush became president.

Unimpressive, Mr. Moorhead? Think again.

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