The Daschle Political Stimulus Plan
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle fired the opening salvo in the Democrat’s quest to capture the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2002. Cleverly overlooking the fact that the current recession actually began almost a year before Bill Clinton left office, Senator Daschle now claims today’s economy is purely the result of the Bush Administration.
But something doesn’t ring true here. If our economy is in such bad shape, why didn’t Senator Daschle and his Democrat colleagues support the economic stimulus package put before the Congress last summer? And, why did Senator Daschle single-handedly prevent the majority of U.S. Senators, who would have supported a watered-down economic stimulus package, from having an opportunity to vote on that package prior to the Christmas recess?
Ironically, Senate Majority Leader Daschle found time on the Senate calendar so the Senate could vote itself a pay raise while thousands of Americans impacted by the terrorist attack of September 11th are without jobs. But there was no time for the Bush plan to create more jobs for working Americans?
Of course, none of this obstructionism would have been possible if Senator James Jeffords had remained in the Republican Party and not switched to Independent status. Jeffords, by giving control of the U.S. Senate to the Democrats, made the kind of gridlock we witnessed prior to September 11th inevitable.
But Fate does strange things. Just when it looked like the Democrats would get away with blaming the Clinton-started recession on the Republicans and keeping our country disunited until the November 2002 elections, Osama bin Laden steps in on September 11th. And, someone or some organization yet to be identified, sent Senator Daschle a letter loaded with weapons-grade Anthrax.
All of a sudden, Americans decided to be united in a common cause to fight terrorism and Senator Daschle had to move out of his office building and work from smaller and, supposedly, less efficient office space in the Capitol. This latter event gave the White House a temporary advantage.
But now, as we begin election year 2002, it appears that Senator Daschle and staff are back on stride and the Senator’s recent broadside against the Bush Administration is evidence of that. Basically, Senator Daschle says the large budget surplus created when the Republicans controlled BOTH houses of Congress would have evaporated even without the added costs of the war against terrorism. Daschle says the Bush tax cuts (most of which won’t take effect for years to come) eliminated the surplus. For anyone who buys that whopper, there is a large bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn they might want to buy as well.
Essentially, Senator Daschle says we Americans are not paying enough taxes. Fortunately, Mike Huckabee, the Republican Governor of Arkansas, has invented a way to address that issue. Governor Huckabee created an “I’m not paying enough taxes fund.” Governor Huckabee is inviting Arkansas residents who feel like they are not paying enough taxes to get out their checkbooks and send money to this fund.
Senator Daschle, since he controls the Senate’s agenda, should consider leading his colleagues into creating such a fund at the federal level. But would Americans be lining up at the Post Office to send in more taxes dollars? If Governor Huckabee’s experience is instructive, the answer is: NO. So far, no one in Arkansas has felt sufficiently un-taxed that they have sent Governor Huckabee any money.
Seriously, let’s understand what is really going on with Senator Daschle and his party. The objective is to keep the U.S. economy sufficiently in disarray so his party can win control of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 5, 2002.
But the Daschle Political Stimulus Plan could go awry. If Senator Zell Miller (D) of Georgia decides to switch parties, Daschle would lose his seat as Majority Leader and the nation could get on with the business of building a new economy.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist and commentator for USA Today, is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy by William Penn – a novel about terrorism in the Colorado Rockies.
©2002. William Hamilton.