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There's a Method to Bush's Madness
Published on Monday, June 23, 2003 by the Madison Capital Times
There's a Method to Bush's Madness
by Dave Zweifel

Folks like to scoff at suggestions that what the Bush administration is really up to with all these tax cuts and deficit spending is to grease the skids for a day when they can do away with all of government's social programs enacted during the last century - Social Security, Medicare, job programs, for a few examples.

They need to read a recent column that appeared in the Washington Post.

It was written by Grover Norquist, the president of the ultra-conservative group called Americans for Tax Reform. The organization has considerable influence in the administration and with today's Republican Party.

There, in black and white, Norquist lays out the scenario that Bush and the GOP Congress envision. If this is compassionate conservatism, I think we better go back to just plain old regular conservatism.

Norquist says that Bush has wisely not proposed fundamental tax reform in a single piece of legislation.

"But the president has been taking deliberate steps toward such reform with each tax cut," he wrote. "Abolish the death tax, abolish the capital gains tax, expand IRAs so that all savings are tax-free, move to full expensing of business investment rather than long depreciation schedules, and abolish the alternative minimum tax."

Eventually, he says, the president will be able to move to a single flat tax rate envisioned by magazine publisher and former GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes and the snarling congressman from Texas, Dick Armey. As David Broder pointed out in a recent column, that's when janitors and CEOs give up the same percentage of their incomes to the tax man.

"The economic goal is to reduce the tax rate on labor and capital and reduce the disincentives to savings, investment and work," Norquist continued, adding that eventually there will be an elimination of tariffs on manufactured goods, reforms in personnel management and "the Social Security changes that will take a generation to phase in."

Bush will be able to take these small steps because he'll have eight years to do it with a Republican Congress that will also be good for at least another eight years or so because of the gerrymandered congressional districts that the GOP was able to fashion after the new census, he candidly and confidently wrote.

Columnist Broder remarked that while Norquist didn't say it directly, what he really has in mind "is a massive rollback in federal revenues and what he regards as a desirable shrinkage of federal services and benefits. In short, the goal is a system of government wiped clean, on both the revenue and spending side, of almost a full century's accumulation of social programs designed to provide a safety net beneath the private economy."

And that's essentially what Bill Moyers said in his recent eye-opening speech at the Take Back America conference in Washington, that Bush and his congressional allies are out to bankrupt government, giving them the excuse to privatize public services in order to enrich the corporate interests that fund their campaigns.

Why else would an administration, facing a $400 billion record-shattering deficit, continually cut taxes, but spend billions more on defense?

There's a method to all this madness and, frankly, the country's in big trouble.

Copyright ©, Madison Newspapers, Inc.


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