Friday, August 5, 2011

Bush: Read my lips (taxes)

IN MY UNPAID part-time summer job to clear out some of my bulging old files, I happened to discover a 21-year-old newspaper story that tells us of a Republican president's painful effort to balance the federal budget.

The Knight-Ridder piece that appeared on Page One of the Beacon Journal bore the headline: Bush keeps open mind on options to cut deficit. That's George "Read My Lips" Bush, of course. Here are the first two paragraphs:
"President Bush is prepared to consider a deficit-cutting package containing a national sales tax, new excise taxes, a national lottery or virtually any other revenue proposal short of higher income tax rates, Republican congressional leaders said Tuesday.

"In flatly ruling out an income tax boost, Bush's GOP allies in Congress sought to help the president tackle a worsening federal budget deficit without appearing to violate his "read my lips" campaign opposition to higher taxes."
The projected deficit was estimated to be $180 billion. And the Republicans were prepared to circle the wagons around their president, deficit or no deficit. Among the taxes to be discussed were sin taxes, a one-cent national sales tax , a lottery and taxes on consumer items.

Unimpressed with the potential dithering over the needs, the Beacon Journal's editorial that day (May 9, 1990) concluded:

"Should either party feel that it could be blamed by the voters for a tax increase, chances are it will not be approved. Officeholders wish to avoid being blamed regardless of the wisdom of the step being considered". Bush lost the election anyway, blamed by some for raising taxes to offset deficits. So much for the wisdom of the anti-tax voters.

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