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Bishop Fitzpatrick None of the five people profiled here would claim saintliness. Their philosophies can be debated and their actions criticized. To some, they are not revolutionary enough; others fear that Valley-type social action will calm the masses enough to save the elites from more jolting changes. Secular critics complain that the social movements are too dependent on church leaders. Another critic has argued that the almost exclusive emphasis on the underclass ignores middleclass attitudes and potential participation. But these five Valley leaders will continue to work for social justice at home and peace in the world as they see fit. It is up to others who desire different or more progressive changes to build upon this foundation and to go beyond. LI Jumper Cables for the Middle Class Economic blues have Texas congressmen looking for green BY DEBORAH LU1TERBECK Washington AFRENCH MORALIST once observed that we all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others. In no place has this been more true than in Washington, until of course there were political stakes. Now that the economy is on the mind of the public, nationwide unemployment at 6.8 percent is starting to mean something inside the Beltway. In Texas, the unemployment rate is running ahead of the national average now at 7.0 percent. But this is not to say there are no cures. In fact, lawmakers of every stripe have lined up on Capitol Hill to offer remedies. So what are the economic wish lists from Texans? Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, is seeking a tax rebate for the middle class. Over in the House Republican camp, Rep. Richard Armey of Lewisville would like to see a capital gains tax cut. In Austin, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and State Treasurer Kay Bailey Hutchison have the simple hope that Texans will get back a dollar for every dollar they send to Washington. From the looks of how the national economic debate is developing, chances are there will be a little bit of something for all of the lawmakers. What remains to be seen is if that will be enough for the American public. The best laws may not be made through compromise, but it is certainly true that most have that birthright. For example, Bentsen’s “Tax Fairness and Savings Incentive Act” contains a little something for everyone, and that gives it a better chance to get adopted. Bentsen’s bill puts some extra cash in the middle income taxpayer’s pockets, provides incentives for the housing sector and postpones spend Deborah Lutterbeck is an economics writer in New York. ing cuts for several years. The nuts and bolts of the Act include a $300per-child tax credit for those who fall in the middle income bracket and it allows more people to make use of their Individual Retirement Accounts. In addition, first-time home buyers would be allowed to dip into their IRA accounts without a penalty. The price tag for this initiative is $72.5 billion. It would be paid for by a 5 percent cut in defense spending that would not begin until 1993. Bentsen’s tax credit takes aim at the fairness in the current system. As the senator describes it: “The attitude of middle income Americans, skeptical after economic policies of the 1980s ran roughshod over the them, can perhaps be summed up by paraphrasing the country/western song: ‘They got the gold mine but we got the shaft.’ The economic policy of the last decade was no friend to the middle class. Forbes magazine reports that the combined worth of the 400 richest people swelled $270 billion in 1989, from $92 billion in 1982. The story of the middle class is not the stuff of glossy magazines. It is a tale best told by the Census Bureau, which found that median net worth of American households dropped 4 percent between 1984 and 1988. You could say . the good times were killing them. The $300 child credit contained in Bentsen’s proposal targets the middle class. For instance, the credit could add up to a 25 percent cut in income tax for a family of four earning $35,000. In case you wondered how many middle income families there are in Texas, the Comptroller’s office says that about 2.8 million of the 6.8 million families in the state earn between $28,000 and $50,000. That’s the good news. The bad news is that $300 in middle-income pocket money may be a little like an undertaker’s make-up the deceased may look better but is still dead. In fact, at least one voice of American industry thinks the credit will do little to revive the economy in general. Donald Hilty, the chief economist from Chrysler, thinks that a $300 tax credit for each THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11