PEOPLE Make a world of difference ! Were proud of our employees and their contributions to your success and ours. Call us for quality printing, binding, mailing and data processing services. Get to know the people at Futura. FUTUM P.O. Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760-7427 389-1500 COMMUNICATIONS, INC MOLLY IVINS Republican Red Ink Sometimes our political debates are just so silly. The vogue du jour is topping your taxcut proposal with my tax-cut proposal. Does it take Ross Perot to remind us that we are still not paying for the government we already have? The Clinton Administration has cut the deficit from $290 billion to an estimated $160 billion in 1995good on them. That still leaves us $160 billion in the hole, except that everyone knows that health-care costs will drive the deficit back up again in a few years. And that’s just the deficit. Our multi-trillion-dollar national debt is still forcing the government to borrow money, so interest payments eat up the money that might be used to solve social problems or even give us all a tax break. Fine, say the conservativeswe don’t want all the government we’re already getting, so cut it. So far, Clinton is the only one who has explained how he’s going to pay for tax cuts with spending cuts, and although that’s fine as far as it goes, it still doesn’t get the deficit any lower, much less the debt. For a tax break that amounts to the price of pizza per week, all our elected representative seem prepared to march us right back into the swamp of debt we’ve just started to wade out of. One of the most embarrassing political illusions I’ve ever suffered from was that the Republicans were the party of fiscal responsibility. When I was young, it was sort of like believing in Santa Clausa myth everybody accepted. Everybody said the Democrats were the party of tax-and-spend and the Republicans were fiscal conservatives. Progressive Texas Democrats would always carefully identify themselves by saying “I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.” It meant they believed in paying the bills. I am mortified to report that when Ronald Reagan was first elected in 1980, I, with touchingly misplaced faith, thought: “Well, at least he’ll get the deficit down.” Because, after all, as the Republicans had spent all of 1980 reminding us in horrified tones, that dreadful Jimmy Carter had let the deficit $50 billion. Two trillion dollars later, as the great fiscal conservative rode off into the sunset, I was cured of one more illusion. You want to know how irresponsible Reagan Molly Ivins, a former Observer editor, is a columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. was? During three of his last four years in office, the dread Democratic Congress, those notorious high-spenders, tried to spend less than the president wanted. Former Speaker Jim Wright tells a priceless story about the time that Congress and the Reagan Administration agreed to a totalsum spending cut, half of it to come from domestic spending chosen by Congress and the other half from military spending chosen by the administration. The two sides met for the big summit; Wright laid out the domestic cuts and … Reagan proposed another increase in military spending. Seven years into his presidency, he still thought spending on the military would cut the deficit. And if you think that’s silly, meet the new Republicans. They still believe it. The same old Wall Street Journal crowd that gave us the Laffer curve, voodoo economics and the $500 billion S&L bailout \(because deregulation was the answer to dle just aglow about the prospect they call “finishing the Reagan revolution.” Reagan revolution means we conduct all our illegal wars off the books. I don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore, and I don’t believe Republicans are fiscally responsible. In fact, the hair stands up on the back of my liberal neck when I hear Rep. Dick Armey blithely propose that we move from “static accounting” to “dynamic accounting.” One of Clinton’s finest achievements \(thank you, Leon Panetta and Alice ing the budget. Smoke, mirrors and fudge have given way to reality. Now is not the time to go back to pie in the sky. More bad ideas are being floated than one person can keep track of. Rep. Bill Archer, yet another Texas gift to the world, wants to abolish the progressive income tax and go back to a flat tax, which is an old Jerry Brown idea. \(Has anyone besides me and David Remnick, in the December 5 New Yorker, noticed Rep. Newt Gingrich’s teen percent across-the-board income tax, say Archer and Armey, is fair. Everybody pays the same percentagehow much fairer can you get? I know a single woman whose annual in, come is more than $200,000 a year in unearned income on money she inherited from her daddy, plus whatever she makes from a sort of business-hobby she runs making artsy glass. I also know a family with five children, one of them born with spina bifida; he works two jobs, truck delivery and night clerk, and she works every day cleaning houses. Their oldest son, 17, has a night job as a. parking lot attendant, and together they make $40,000 a year. Fifteen percent of $40,000 is more than 15 percent of $200,000. Get it? That’s why we have a progressive income tax. Ross Perot makes $1 million a day. \(The reason I know this is because one time I put in my column that he makes more than $1 million a year, thinking it was a safe assertion, and he called me collect, worried that he was on his way to the poorhouse which I still think is one of the funniest Perot is paying 30 percent of ,his daily income in taxes and at least he made his own Thirty percent off Perot’s daily million still doesn’t mean as much to Perot as the 15 percent that comes from my friend who cleans houses. That’s why we have a progressive income tax. Because it’s fair. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13
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