Okay lets walk this

July 24, 2001 1:48 a.m.

Okay, let’s walk this through. Soon after being sworn into office President Bush sent a $1.6 trillion tax cut package to Capitol Hill. The bill was made up of cuts in marginal rates (heavily weighted toward high-income earners), an end to the marriage penalty, and a repeal of the estate tax.

Democrats pressed instead for an immediate tax rebate which would a) be more progressive and b) have a more immediate stimulatory effect in a decelerating economy. The administration lampooned the rebate concept and resisted it strenuously. In late March Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill ridiculed the rebate- for-stimulus idea as a once-tried gambit that “just didn’t work.” (Wash Times, 3/28/01) Democrats forced the rebate into the president’s bill and it soon became the most popular part of the tax cut package.

Now the administration is holding carefully choreographed rebate celebrations around the country. At the rebate pep rally in Kansas City on Friday O’Neill (now a born-again rebateer) marvelled at how the rebates were coming “at exactly the right time to give the softening economy a much-needed shot in the arm. This is a rare instance when fiscal policy hits exactly when it was needed most.” (Gannet, 7/20/01) In other words Republicans are harvesting the political benefit of a policy initiative forced upon them by the Democrats.

This is:

a) A shameless hypocrisy on the part of Republicans.

b) Extremely shrewd politics on the part of Republicans.

c) An inexplicable public relations failure on the part of House and Senate Democrats.

d) All of the above.

How many guesses ya need?

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