- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The Democratic reaction to President Bush's short-term stimulus and long-term growth plan has been shrill and misleading. To be less charitable, in a relentless campaign that began even before the president unveiled his program, Democrats have unleashed one untruth after another especially regarding the plan's immediate and direct impact on middle-class families.
Based on a detailed comparison between the president's proposal and the plan that House Democrats also released last week, it is easy to understand why Democrats have misled the public. While there is much to debate, there is one issue that is utterly undebatable. It is this fact: Compared to the House Democratic plan, the president's proposal is overwhelmingly more beneficial to the vast majority of middle-class families, even if they receive no taxable stock dividends.
No wonder Democrats have been forced to ignore the benefits in the president's plan. The supposedly centrist Democratic Leadership Council finds only "a few scraps" in the Bush plan for "low- to middle-income taxpayers." Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle has called the Bush plan "obscene." "Most lower-income or moderate-income families," insisted former Clinton economic adviser Gene Sperling, "will get no tax cut from this at all." Characterizing the Bush plan as "more tax cuts for the wealthy," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also asserted that "the bulk of [the Bush plans] provisions will take effect years from now."
Contrary to Mrs. Pelosi and the others, the Bush plan would provide rather substantial tax cuts to lower- and middle-income families, and these cuts would become effective retroactive to Jan. 1. How substantial? Well, draw your own conclusions from the table below, which compares the lower- and middle-income tax cuts offered by the House Democrats and the president. As George Will noted the other day, Democrats who want to argue that a family income of $104,000 qualifies as rich need to talk to the Chicago couple earning the average public school teacher's salary ($50,000) in Illinois and the minimum salary for a Chicago police sergeant ($54,000). Excluded from the table, it must be noted, are the thousands of dollars in refundable earned-income tax credits for which millions of lower-income families qualify each year.
The proposal by the House Democrats would provide rebate checks of $300 for singles and $600 for married couples. That's it: a one-shot, one-year rebate. Nothing for next year.
Beginning Jan. 1, the Bush plan would eliminate the marriage penalty, which compels tens of millions of two-income married couples to pay higher income taxes than they would if they cohabitated. For 2002, for example, a married couple (one child) with each parent earning a quintessentially middle-class income of $36,400 will pay a marriage penalty in excess of $1,500. House Democrats claim they are for marriage-penalty relief. However, they just didn't think it was important enough to offer it.
The Bush plan also would increase the child tax credit from $600 to $1,000 effective Jan. 1 and each year thereafter, as well as in perpetuity, if Democrats ever agreed to make it permanent. The House Democratic plan keeps the child tax credit at $600. Also effective Jan. 1, the Bush plan accelerates the income-tax rate reductions that are otherwise scheduled for 2004 and 2006.
Take another look at the table. No wonder Democrats prefer shrill untruths over informed debate. In fact, information is the last thing Democrats want suburban middle-class families to receive. And, of course, any meaningful tax relief.The MIDDLE-CLASS TAX CUTS table.


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