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Bush Aiming to Outdo FDR

Policy analyst Stephen Moore has recently noted that "Among the post-World War II presidents, Bush ranks as the highest spender on domestic programs, as the highest in average tax burden on workers, and as the highest in national debt accumulation."

Moore argues that quite apart from the savings and loan bail-out, domestic expenditures have exploded under the initiative of the Bush administration. The President has not only endorsed spending increases in established programs (e.g. increases of $34 billion for the Dept. of Health and Human Services, $18 billion for housing programs, $5.5 billion for agricultural programs, etc.) but he has instigated new spending programs of his own (education, space exploration, transportation, drugs, etc.). In short, since Reagan left office, domestic spending, adjusted for inflation, has "grown by an enormous 10% per year."

The President's tax policies present a similar horror story. Though we are familiar with the President's notorious violation of his promise not to raise taxes -- "I will not raise your taxes, period" (Bush, Oct. 1988) -- we have ignored the particularly flagrant manner of this breach. The President endorsed the tax package that will raise federal taxes to 19.5 percent of the GNP, which as Moore describes "represents a higher average tax burden than the people have shouldered under any previous post-World War II president."

In 1980, after the legacy of the "big-spending" Carter years, Americans paid $600 billion in taxes. In 1992, after years "tax slashing" conservative Republicans, we will pay twice that amount -- $1.2 trillion.

And Americans were afraid of Michael Dukakis? At least Dukakis might have been so fearful of fulfilling candidate Bush's accusations of being a "tax and spend" Democrat that he would have moved more slowly. But "conservative Republican" presidents can and have done far more damage under the guise of restraint than their opponents could ever imagine.

Since the past few decades of experience should have bludgeoned us with the truth that self-professing "conservative, no tax, budget cutting Republicans" are never that, perhaps we could resolve this frustration by means of some fanciful Medieval witch-hunt practice.

If a candidate claims to be a "conservative, no tax, budget cutting Republican," then we could test that claim by immersing (no sprinkling in this case) the candidate in water for, say, the time Republican presidents transform into Democratic presidents, plus an hour. If the candidate bloats and turns dark blue, then we know that he wasn't a "conservative, no tax, budget cutting Republican" because elephants are never blue (unless you're at a really cheap circus).

If, on the other hand, the candidate does not bloat or turn blue but merely gets pasty-faced, then he might have been telling the truth, but it doesn't matter since he wouldn't get into office anyway. Nevertheless, the whole process could serve to distract Democrats for quite a while.

DMJ


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