Monday :: May 5, 2003

Are Frist and the GOP Becoming a Little Detached From Reality?


by Steve

If you want to get a sense of a brewing disconnect between the voters and the GOP in general and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist in particular, check out this story from Frist’s home-state paper over the weekend. Check out Frist’s comments on the eventual size of the Bush tax cut and his view of the resulting deficits.

(Frist) predicted that the Bush administration would ultimately achieve a tax cut much larger than the $350 billion recently approved by the Senate.

Dealing with the deficit, meanwhile, will have to wait.

''I'm willing, in the short term to create jobs, to borrow money,'' he said.

The right step now is ''lowering the marginal tax rate, especially the upper one, which politically is the most difficult one because that's sort of the 'tax cuts for the rich' argument on the floor, which is the hardest to defeat,'' he said.

''It's also where job creation, … the engine of economic growth in terms of job creation, occurs.

''We're going to end up passing, I'll betcha before we're done, 800 to 900 billion dollars in tax relief'' over 10 years.''
At the same time, the federal government won't be ratcheting down on expenses, with Medicare needs rising and states in a financial bind, he said.

''It's hard to imagine decreasing spending right now, for the next two or three years,'' he said.

There were deficits ''as far as your eye can see'' when former President Clinton came into office, and those were soon erased, he said, ''so this can switch quickly.''

''In the short term, it's all right to borrow money if you're confident that you're going to be able to get job creation, which will grow the economy and increase revenue later.''

Sure Senator, you and your friend George go ahead and run on that platform next year; a marginal rate cut for the well-off, as part of a budget-busting package; exploding deficits tempered by supply-side assurances that job creation will eventually result that will erase those deficits.

Frist says that he could overcome Democratic filibusters against Miguel Estrada and Priscilla Owen using parliamentary means and a change in Senate precedent, but he is against doing so because it would poison chances of fixing Medicare and addressing other issues.

He said he hired a top parliamentary expert and found that he could get both the nominees through ''like that,'' he said, snapping his fingers. This route would involve a change in precedent, he said, but he would not elaborate on what might be done to achieve it.

''I could do it, easily, but it would blow the system up.'' He would not then be able to pass Medicare or address education and other issues that must be dealt with, he said.

The filibusters could be challenged in court, but he's not interested in that, he said. Another option is to change the rules, which isn't easy, he said.

Yup, the guy who has pissed off the House GOP and cannot manage his own caucus in support of a president with a 65-plus approval rating can get two right-wing flakes confirmed to the federal bench “just like that.”

Your own Finance chairman is about to introduce a tax package that deletes the President’s centerpiece, and you have been unable to budge a block of moderates in your own party to go along with you and the President. And one of the swing Democrats the President was trying to bully just trumped him with a package of her own that is politically a winner compared to any of the GOP plans.

And your president, with declining poll numbers and doubts growing on his economic policies, is sounding more and more like a screaming Texan than a President on his whirlwind tour to sell a package that may be DOA.

But Senator, you go ahead and keep thinking that all is going well.

Steve :: 2:31 PM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!