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CyberAlert -- 06/10/1996 -- Bashing Tax Cuts & Clarence Thomas

Bashing Tax Cuts & Clarence Thomas

Two topics today:

1) Wonder how the media will react to any tax cut proposal from Bob Dole? Here are three recent attacks on the idea and on supply-side economics.

2) It's not known yet whether Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas will accept the on and off and now on again invitation to speak to an 8th grade graduation on June 10, but a NBC News reporter doesn't object to bashing his views.


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On Friday night's (June 7) PBS Washington Week in Review this exchange occurred among three of the panelists:
Alan Murray, Wall Street Journal Washington Bureau Chief: "If there is one principle that Bob Dole has steadfastly held to in the last two decades, it's been the notion that you have to do deficit reduction before you do tax cuts. In 1982 he pushed through a big tax increase to deal with the deficit. In 1985 there was this dramatic midnight vote where the Republicans by one vote put through a package of deficit reduction that included a cut in Social Security. These things took considerable political courage on his part. This is really Bob Dole's political character in a sense."
Elizabeth Arnold, NPR: "His legacy."
Murray: "It is his legacy and if he goes out and grabs on to a bunch or irresponsible or oversized tax cuts he could have a problem"
Tom Friedman, New York Times columnist: "Is it even good politics. I mean they're just repealing the gas tax. How many people are going out, I just got my 4.3 percent, I'm a Dole man now?"

Much of the media have bought into the idea that Reagan's tax cuts, not soaring spending, caused the deficit to increase in the 1980s. These recent quotes show it's an attack reporters will use against any tax cut proposal.
From a May 28 Washington Post news story by Clay Chandler that was caught by the MRC's Tim Graham: "Often, his [Dole] condemnation of supply-side tax cuts has reflected the austerity of his Dust Bowl origins. Dole dutifully helped steer President Reagan's tax cuts through Congress in 1981, but he spent the next several years trying to dam up the river of federal red ink that was largely created by that deal."

From the May 26 Meet the Press, two days earlier, MRC analyst Clay Waters picked up this question from Tim Russert to Steve Forbes and Senator Bill Bradley:
"Ross Perot has said that, repeatedly, that giving a tax cut now is like giving candy to the electorate right before the election. Senator you were in the Senate, and Mr. Forbes, you were watching it very closely when Ronald Reagan was President for eight years. Cut taxes, 25 percent. The deficit, with a Democratic Congress I should add, went from sixty billion dollars when he took office to two-hundred billion dollars when he left office. So we can cut taxes, but it seems to drive up the deficit as well."

I should note that in interviewing John Kasich and Leon Panetta on Sunday June 9 Russert challenged each as to why their party's were considering a tax cut given the huge debt and Medicare crisis. And, he noted that in the '80s while Reagan cut taxes, Democrats who controlled Congress increased spending. But, I think the quote above best reflects what he and his colleagues really believe.

2

Friday's Washington Post "Reliable Source" column in the Style section relayed this news about the political atmosphere in which actor Danny Glover and Bob Herbert, a former NBC News reporter, feel comfortable. The piece described the June 6 TransAfrica fundraising dinner: "This year's honorees -- philanthropist Camille Cosby, actor Danny Glover, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert and retired federal judge A. Leon Higginbotham -- spoke mostly about domestic problems: Cosby called for Africa Americans to pour more money into black-owned businesses, and Higginbotham received a standing ovation for his blistering rebuke of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's rejection of affirmative action. 'He has let us down profoundly,' said the judge."

-- Brent Baker

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