It must be impossible to make too much money. That helps explain why gazzilionaires like Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones charge $150 for a ticket to their senior citizen tours, or why pro athletes making $10 million a year demand $5 million more.
And maybe it helps explain why President Bush is so concerned about the wealthiest Americans.
Clearly, our president likes being a trend setter, hence the we'll attack you before you can attack us philosophy. So it follows that he's not scared of being the first president to push through a giant tax cut during a time of national crisis. So what if Lincoln and FDR had other priorities than shaving the taxes of the rich in times of war? This president is not going to be hamstrung by history.
In our first glimpse of the cost of war with Iraq, the president asked Congress for a supplemental appropriation of $75 billion.
Congress should appropriate that money as soon as possible. But no degree of respect for the commander-in-chief should compel Congress to approve the administration's request to borrow (essentially from the Social Security Trust Fund, since the federal budget is already in deficit) 10 times as much as he's asking to fund the war to launch another massive round of tax cuts.
The House has approved a budget resolution earmarking $725 billion in tax cuts over 10 years. The Senate, in a spasm of fiscal conscience, voted 51-48 this week to slice the tax cuts in half. Three Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting the amendment, which dedicated the savings to future Social Security reform efforts and/or deficit reduction. Now the House and Senate must try to bridge the gulf between what each approved.
This latest push for massive tax cuts, the bulk for the richest 1 percent, comes on the heels of new estimates predicting a current-year budget deficit of nearly $400 billion, which would be a record. And that estimate doesn't include money for any of the pressing domestic initiatives such as a prescription drug benefit for seniors or more money for education.
It flies in the face of advice from Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, who made three main points in his semi-annual report to Congress: (1) large long-range budget deficits will damage the economy; (2) Congress should forget about any new tax cuts until we see the economic and budgetary impact of the war; and (3) everybody in Washington needs to start focusing on the next big budgetary crisis: the retirement of the baby boom generation.
An analysis of the president's budget proposal by the Congressional Budget Office, which works for the Republican-controlled House and Senate, concluded the tax cuts would produce little positive economic effect in the short run while creating giant budget deficits in later years.
But so far, neither war, nor deficits, nor economic doldrums, nor compelling domestic needs have been able to distract this administration and its allies in Congress from their fight against the principles of progressive taxation and fiscal discipline.
Why? Because it's impossible to make too much money. Hal McCune is the EO's news editor.