Feb 062002

Democrats won’t admit for political reasons that their strategy for bolstering economic growth probably includes targeted tax increases, but I suspect that Daschle and Co. would do it if they could.

So what? Why are Americans so wary of paying taxes?

Immediately after Sept. 11, Americans poured millions upon millions of dollars into victims’ relief funds in New York and Washington. On Nov. 9 – not two months after the attacks – the Red Cross and other charitable groups had raised more than $1.3 billion.

But when it comes to the federal government, Americans are so protective of their earnings.

The President’s $2.13 trillion budget for FY’03 includes $379 billion for defense and nearly $80 billion in deficit spending. It took nearly a decade for Bill Clinton, the first Democratic president since the 1970s, to pay down the national deficit, and it’s taken Bush a few months to get it back. Now he proposes making it worse.

(Of course, if Bush hadn’t blown the surplus on his huge tax cut last year, we’d still have a bit to fall back on – but who’s counting?)

But I think there’s a solution that doesn’t involve taxes or a massive debt.

If President Bush asked every American for a cash donation for defense and homeland security, with a promise that it’d be spent in those endeavors, I’d be willing to bet that thousands, perhaps millions, of Americans would do it.

Imagine: Instead of targeted tax cuts to businesses and middle-income families, the government could appeal to its electorate – admit it’s broke and ask for a tax-deductible loan from the American people.

It could be a patriotic duty.

“People ask me all the time, what can I do to fight terror, fight the evil ones?” President Bush said to New York’s Finest on Wednesday in New York City.

Americans received one answer in Bush’s eloquent State of the Union address, in which he promoted John McCain and Evan Bayh’s USA Freedom Corps. The program’s Internet site received thousands of hits within minutes.

Well, now there is something else we can do to help the country, the economy and the fight against terror: pledge some money to the federal government and be a direct participant in protecting our homeland and our interests and friends abroad.

“Whatever (the war) costs, we must pay the price,” the President said yesterday.

Imagine if the price was a few dollars from every American, rather than billions of dollars in deficits.

There are about 284 million of us, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. If 100 million citizens – about a third of the country – pledged just $20, that contribution alone would pay for half the entire military budget for next year. And what’s 20 bucks, for most middle-class Americans? One less night at the bars? One less new CD? Riding a bus for a week instead of buying gas for your SUV? It’s really not that much to ask. When it comes to homeland defense, we can afford a little dent in our pocketbooks.

To skirt around the inevitable legal wrangling over such an idea, why not set up a federal charity – something akin to the Red Cross for the U.S. government.

I think most Americans are much less selfish than some politicians might think. We want to help. We want to get involved. What better way for us to do this than to participate in covering the cost of the war?

“The way you fight evil is with millions of acts of good,” Bush said.

Let’s make the acts of good into millions of dollars.

Why not?

Becky is a junior or something majoring in journalism and history. She trusts the federal government much more than she probably should.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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