It's hard to believe what is coming out of Washington, D.C., in the past few days. At a time when America is likely to be involved in a long-term shooting war and the federal "budget surplus" has evaporated, President Bush is calling for added and accelerated tax cuts -- of at least $60 billion -- in an effort to stimulate the economy.
Reportedly, Bush gave a green light to Republican leaders in the House of Representatives to come up with a tax cut package of up to $75 billion -- without waiting for input from the Senate or from Democratic members of Congress.
This plan seems wildly out of touch with the status of the economy, and also seems sure to wreck the wonderful spirit of non-partisanship the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America brought to Congress and the nation.
At a time like this, the proposal makes little sense for several reasons. Already, the federal government is financially stretched. We need to pay for major upgrades to our security systems around the nation. The United States military is going to need even more funding beyond the recent $40 billion Congress approved, part of which was to pay for emergency military operations and the rest to help rebuild the damages to Manhattan. Many more millions of dollars are going toward extending unemployment coverage for laid-off workers.
Further, Congress was stampeded into providing some $15 billion to "bail out" the airline industry after Sept. 11, when it might have been wiser to let the industry shake itself out.
Clearly, a huge amount of money has been spent in recent weeks, and a long list of additional spending has been promised for this and that emergency need. That's all good, and the American people are prepared for sacrifices to help fight the war on global terrorism. Paying our taxes is no hardship at a time like this, indeed we expect that.
So why propose this wild multi-billion tax cut plan? Congress already approved one excessively big tax cut -- of $1.3 trillion -- that Bush requested soon after he took office. That in itself was probably a mistake, as it served to drastically shrink the surplus, and pushed the nation immediately toward likely deficit spending after years of struggle to turn away from that.
Despite our wealth, this nation is not made of endless money. Just how does Bush propose to fight a long-term war, bail out a major industry, and help rebuild war-torn, impoverished lands teeming with millions of starving citizens, all while showering more huge tax cuts on everyone? Just where will all this money come from?
If anything, this is a time to rethink the original tax cuts, not propose a huge new round of them. This idea is misguided, and it could prove dangerous for the nation's economic health.
Hopefully, Congress will recognize it as such and rein in the president on this proposal.