- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 24, 2003

Individual responsibility put to the test

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, is quoted as saying, “Each of us Americans are responsible for what we choose to eat” (“Senate bill bans obesity lawsuits,” Business, Thursday). I hope Mr. McConnell is consistent in his belief in individual responsibility for one’s behavior and thus supports banning any future suits against the tobacco industry, as well (to be fair, he should support voiding all tobacco settlements, but one thing at a time).

If, however, he believes that the tobacco industry is responsible for individuals choosing to smoke and the possibly adverse health effects of smoking, then he should also recognize that the food industry is equally responsible when people use (eat) their products.


Director of academic information

City University of New York

New York

Reassessing fiscal policies

Stephen Moore takes wishful thinking to a new level (“Those tax cuts beginning to work,” Commentary, Monday). Mr. Moore’s conclusion that the recent upward tick in the stock market is proof that the Bush tax cuts are good for the economy and that Democratic critics, such as me, have been wrong is absurd. Though it is encouraging to see gains in the stock market, that says nothing about the long-term threat to our nation’s economy from the massive deficits and debt being created by President Bush’s relentless tax-cutting agenda.

I have always argued that we need more stimulus upfront, including tax cuts, to help kick-start the economy. The problem with the president’s tax cuts is that they are poorly designed — not doing enough in the short term, when stimulus is needed, while costing far too much over the long term. If the tax cuts are made permanent as the president wants, they will explode in cost at exactly the same time that the costs to Social Security and Medicare explode with the retirement of the baby-boom generation. This will lead to a potentially devastating fiscal crisis, with the nation forced to choose between slashing our health and retirement systems, enacting massive tax increases or eliminating most of the rest of government as we know it.

Despite Mr. Moore’s contention to the contrary, my statement that the deficits and debt created by the Bush economic plan will lead to higher interest rates, the crowding out of private sector investment and the slowing of long-term economic growth is accurate and is widely supported by economists of all political stripes. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan reiterated this point again last week in a testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. He stated: “[T]here is no question that if you run substantial and excessive deficits over time, you are draining savings from the private sector, and other things equal, you do clearly undercut the growth rate of the economy.”

Mr. Moore also makes the absurd claim that interest rates have fallen in response to the tax cut. This is nonsense. With a sluggish economy and a Fed that has cut rates 13 times in less than three years, it is understandable that there is little competition for money right now. But once the economy begins to pick up, the government will be competing to borrow from the same pool of money as the private sector, and interest rates will shoot back up — undercutting economic growth just as Mr. Greenspan predicts.

Unfortunately, no amount of wishful thinking on Mr. Moore’s part will be enough to overcome the long-term negative impact of the president’s irresponsible fiscal policies.


Ranking member

Senate Budget Committee

North Dakotaso far. If anything, we have been too reticent to use our power. We had to be forced into two world wars and into the Cold War, in which we were essential to the triumph of freedom and democracy. Recently, the Europeans had to shame us into Yugoslavia and now are trying to do the same in Liberia.

We have protected the world, especially Europe, from evil for several generations, asking nothing in return, certainly not gratitude. This coddling has rendered Europe and South Korea childish. They are like spoiled children who have lost contact with reality. We are now in a war not of our choosing. We have, at great cost in treasure and blood, dragged Afghanistan and Iraq into the modern world, kicking and screaming. The world is much better off and has two budding republics where there had been only despotism. We will be criticized and vilified and then there will be demands that we do more and sacrifice more for others’ benefit.

It’s time for some “tough love,” as they say. When this dust-up is over, we should resign from being the world’s protector and bring our military home. We should let our foreign critics slit each other’s throats to their heart’s content. We can easily remain aloof from future strife, should we determine to do so, and will be the least affected by any new wars. This is the best way to improve our international reputation. (Note how the South Koreans’ anti-American attitude abruptly and comically changed when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested we retreat a bit from assuring their security.) But then, I fear civilization will have to pay dearly when we do.


Gig Harbor, Wash.

The demise of tyrants

This is a great day in our war against terror, with the eradication of two monstrous barbarians: the sons of Saddam Hussein, who were among the principal cogs in their father’s killing and repression machines (“Saddam’s sons dead,” Page 1, Wednesday). Every American owes a debt of gratitude to our fine Special Forces, who magnificently carried out this mission, and to the blessed Iraqi man who apprised our military of the whereabouts of the terrorists.

May this key victory demoralize the enemy, buoy the spirits and morale of our soldiers and enable the repressed people of Iraq to feel relieved in the knowledge that a great weight has been lifted from their shoulders.


Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

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