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Political Junkie Alert
I caught some of the Democratic debate earlier tonight but only because the Indianapolis, Denver game was so hard to watch. This election season bears all the hallmarks of the last one. All the candidates have their pet plans, "Under my plan" they all say when we all know that these presidential campaign plans never get off the ground. Some of the policy of the campaigns make it into the official policy but most of it is just carefully tailored rhetoric to build support among various constituents.
This year we're seeing a race to spend the Bush tax cuts once they are repealed. Four years ago we saw both sides rushing to spend the Unicorn Surplus. Remember those trillions of dollars that candidates fashioned into grand policy? Well, to a degree we got what Bush promised, he said he would give away millions to rich people and he did. That money was mythical, and we all knew it. A thoughtful commentator on NPR once broke down how the numbers were reached and it was pure fantasy. I was waiting for Gore to resist the urge to outspend Bush on the "surplus". But he didn't. Wuss.
Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate in Iowa (washingtonpost.com):
Why do I like Dean more and more? Well, read the following transcript snippet and you'll see.
"DEAN: Well, we've got to look at the big picture. If you make over $1 million, you've got a $112,000 tax cut. Sixty percent of us got a $304 tax cut.
Immediately Lieberman jumped all over Dean's ass. But look at what was said. When you look at how we are seeing other expenses rise due to the "tax cutting" measures imposed by Bush, most middle Americans can look at it as an increase on their cost of living. By not addressing health care concerns, primarily the rising cost of drugs, in deference to pharmaceutical interests, we are seeing a continuing rise in health care costs for average people. By saddling schools with more unfunded mandates, that will eventually be paid for by higher property taxes or money shifted from other programs, we hurt people, hurt kids. By making it harder to get financial aid it becomes more expensive for people looking to send their kids off to college. By engaging in costly (and unnecessary) military conflicts without any plans to pay for them we create enormous debt for future generations.
You see it all comes out of the same pocket. Bush's tax cut is a wealth redistribution program. He gets to issue refunds on one side and raise out of pocket costs expenses on the other side. In some cases, he has just shifted the costs of the cuts further into the future. Its like those checks you get from the credit card companies where you can write yourself a check for cash but its really just a loan. If someone came to your door with a suitcase full of money, said it was yours and then informed you that you would have to pay it back, would you take the "free money"? Of course not. They claim that the tax cuts will spur growth and lead to greater revenue. Sure, and taking that money down to the track sounds like a good financial plan as well. Run that one by your spouse. There's a reason we call it voodoo economics.
I like Dean because he is willing to point out that Bush's policy, beyond their slogans of "No Child Left Behind", "Healthy Forests" or "Saving Medicare" actually don't deliver the goods but do more harm than good. They mask a much larger vision that has little to do with helping average people and more to do with empowering wealthy campaign donors. Other Democrats seem to take Bush's rhetoric at face value. A big mistake if you ask me. You can't compete with Bush on his own playing field. Its a bit like letting your opponent choose your golf clubs for you.
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