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timcol.thursday 3/15

March 19, 2001

Bush tax cut proposal puts me in the wrong bracket



Tim Rowland


My favorite scene from the news last week was the congressional press conference in support of the Bush tax plan, in which huge bands of lobbyist-supporters were urged to "dress down" so it wouldn't appear that the $1.6 trillion tax cut is the overwhelming darling of the rich and powerful.

Apparently the GOP was afraid of how it might look to the general public if the only supporters of the plan were salivating rich white men in dark, double-breasted suits and red power ties.

The lobbyists were instructed, by memo, to trade in their de la Rentas for denim and were even told that hard hats would be available to make these million-dollar money/politics grubbers look like construction workers.

The result was positively priceless. I didn't know whether I was watching a press conference or a concert by the Village People. Talk about looking awkward. A hardhat on a lawyer is like seeing an octopus wearing panty hose, or Michael Dukakis wearing a tank helmet.

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I don't really care what they wear, but two thoughts came to mind. First, lobbyists as a group are some of the most thick-headed people I've ever met, so why the need for a hardhat? A brick falling on the old bean from 47 floors would cause them no more bother than a housefly does to a horse.

And second, why would greater America think that this is a good bill because it has the support of construction workers? When was the last time you passed a jobsite and said to your kid "Look Billy, a man in a hardhat; he must be a real whiz on federal taxation policy."

I support the Bush tax plan, not particularly because I think the put-upon, multimillionaire taxpayers deserve the cash, but because I believe the government deserves it even less. If the government has it, it will spend it and frankly I would rather have private people using it to pump up the stock market in the hopes that the 401(k) accounts of us average Joes will one day reach five figures.

But I don't support the way it is distributed. I read the bill and here is some of the language: "Everyone in America is to be given substantial tax relief. Except for middle-income 40-year-old-single people with no kids, who are hereby decreed to receive only $3 a week." Honest, that's exactly what it says.

Yes, as usual, this is all about me.

What am I going to do with my $3 a week? Oh I don't know, throw it on the pile, I suppose.

I know, I've heard that tired old mantra a million times: "The rich people paid most of the tax in the first place, so naturally they should get the biggest chunk of it back."

But I'm not bitter, oh no.

In fact, I'm already thinking about how I could change my station in life so that I will receive a bigger slice of the pie. Let's see, I could work harder and earn more money so that - no, I knew I'd never be able to finish that sentence with a straight face.

The other option is to take out a personal ad. Because I studied the tax-relief charts and with a few minor family adjustments I could really be in the chips.

The ad would go something like this: SWM seeks SMWTKWEBTATTDAWCFJ (Single White Male seeks Single Mom With Two Kids Who Earns Between Twenty And Thirty Thousand Dollars And Would Consider Filing Jointly.

That would put me in all the right brackets to make a real haul. Heck, we'd never even have to meet.

The ceremony could be by conference call: "Do you, Zelda, promise to love, cherish and fax your W-2s in a timely fashion to this man..."

Hey, people have gotten hitched for worse reasons.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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