Party Needs To Embrace Tax Cuts
By Senator Zell Miller (As appeared in The
Wall Street Journal)
did the Democratic Party lose so badly last week?
simple. We didn't give people any real reason to vote for us and
we gave them far too many reasons to vote against us. We set ourselves
up to be taken down by a popular president who figured out a way
to exploit both of those weaknesses.
at what the campaign became in the last week, played out live on
the evening news. First, we saw President Bush, flying from state
to state urging Congress to make his tax cut permanent and to create
his homeland security department, and accusing Democrats of foot-dragging
or outright opposition to both. Then we saw former President Clinton
and Vice President Gore, flying from state to state, urging the
old Democratic base to get out and vote against Mr. Bush
or in the case of Florida, against two Bushes.
a time when people are hurting, we Democrats some how managed to
turn an election that should have been about making people's lives
better into a grudge match between our aimless opposition and Mr.
lost the Senate, big. Why? To start with, we didn't get anything
done. After all the noise in the 2000 presidential election, we
still don't have a prescription drug plan. More than a year after
the terror of Sept. 11, we still don't have a Department of Homeland
Security. Nearly two years into an economic downturn, we still don't
have a clear economic agenda and when we're not opposing
tax cuts outright our party still doesn't have a clear position
on tax relief.
hard to run on your record when you don't have a record. And it's
hard to run on your vision when you don't have a vision.
we got in the end was the blame.
Democratic Party party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman,
John F. Kennedy, the party that gave us Social Security, the G.I.
Bill and Medicare has become a party that stands for nothing
and does nothing.
party is stagnant, and if we don't do something new in a
better and bolder way the Democratic Party could follow that
other inflexible party of groups, the Whigs, into the dustbin of
new, I do not mean becoming the antiwar party at a time when our
nation's security is threatened in a way that it has never been
Why couldn't our party push for a national lottery with the proceeds
going to help pay the cost of college for deserving students in
Why couldn't our party push to restructure the sacrosanct Head Start
program into a universal pre-kindergarten program, with more emphasis
on learning instead of just day care?
Why couldn't we Democrats push to spread the massive government
bureaucracy now concentrated in Washington, D.C., out around the
whole nation, saving money and bringing jobs to America at the same
Why couldn't we national Democrats be as tough on crime as the Republicans?
Most of our successful Democratic governors already are.
And why in Heaven's name can't our party be for real tax cuts? In
the middle of a recession, the Democrats once had a president who
passed a massive tax-cut package. His name was John F. Kennedy.
Today, in the middle of a recession, we should be a party advocating
for more tax cuts, not less. But we aren't.
is the most tax-averse country on earth. Our own revolution started
with people tossing tea off boats in Boston Harbor
of high taxes! Being a party that opposes tax cuts is not good politics,
anywhere, any time. Like it or not, that's what we've become.
of arguing that Mr. Bush's tax cut goes too far, we Democrats should
be arguing that it doesn't go far enough. Middle-class families
need more tax relief now as America faces an economic threat we
haven't seen since the 1930s the threat of deflation.
Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates to the lowest levels
in 40 years, and there's not much more it can do. This country needs
a massive economic stimulus now, before we head down the road of
falling prices, falling wages and falling home values. There is
a way out and it works. Let's cut taxes for individuals and business
even more, right now.
there's a message Democrats could have run on. It is good policy
and it is good politics.
when you combine good policy and good politics, that's when you
Miller is a Democratic United States Senator from Georgia. This
article originally appeared in the November 14 edition of The
Wall Street Journal.
November 22, 2002]
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