There is now a gallany battle being waged in our nation's capital. Such honorable gentlemen as Speaker of the House O'Neill and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Rostenkowski have vowed to battle our debonair president unto death unless he relents in his draconic scheme to cut our taxes by 25 percent over the next three years. After that he wants to index our taxes so that in times of inflation, as we sweat evermore furiously to match our incomes with rising prices, the government will not quietly be able to pilfer still more of our income. Why is it that the honorable gentlemen are so agitated over our president's tax cuts?
Both of these men are Democrats, members of the Party of the Big Heart and defenders of the common man. O'Neill is our special friend. He regularly bawls prodigiously about his love for us. He is tumescent with pride over his record of bestowing lucre onto our outstretched palms. He has aided all comers: the unemployed, the underprivileged, the oppressed. "One of the big spenders of all time" is how he has described himself. So why then does he oppose putting a little more jingle in the taxpayers' pockets -- or, I should say, why does he oppose leaving it there?
Do the honorable gentlemen really fear our president's tax reductions will unbalance the budget? Over the last two years I have never noticed this reverence for fiscal conservatism. Stacking boondoggle atop boondoggle, they raised the budget from $579.6 billion in 1980 to $663 billion in fiscal 1981. In each of those years, they ran up deficits of nearly $60 billion. No, balanced budgets are not a bugaboo with the Party of the Big Heart.
So why is it that the honorable gentlemen balk at giving us the tax relief our president favors? They like to give us higher and higher Social Security payments. They are pledged to giving national health care and other such gifts. Why not just give us a break when the tax man gnaws at our payroll checks? Well, as Donald Lambro, the author of "Fat City: How Washington Wastes Your Taxes," has recently pointed out, the honorable gentlemen's inflationary programs would be bringing them $1 trillion a year in windfall tax revenues by 1985 were Ronald Reagan not to frustrate them with tax cuts. ythink of the power and the perks that redound to the nols who have $1 trillion to hand out every year. Think of how they could forage on in search of even more remote constituencies to buy off.
Here then is the real reason for the gallant battle. Ever since Harry Hopkins apprised FDR of the usefulness of the formula "Spend and spend, tax and tax, elect and elect," big spenders like O'Neill have been political geniuses, invincible and immortal. Denied increased powers to tax, the big spenders are going to have more difficulty buying us off. Doubtless some of their spending over the years has been beneficial, but to what lengths are the speaker and his colleagues willing to go with this spending program? In the meantime, the weight of these good works is becoming colossally burdensome for the common man. The speaker is no longer aiding us with dollars taxed from the Rockefellers and the du Ponts. He is aiding us with our tax dollars. Inflation over the past 15 years has pushed us all into much higher tax brackets. We are now in the rich man's tax bracket, but we are earning middle-class incomes. A decade and a half ago scarcely 7 percent of us were affected by marginal tax rates of 25 percent or higher. Now well over 40 percent of us are in those tax brackets.
Moreover, inflation and rising taxes are wrecking our economy. The incentive to work and to invest is being dampened. Economic growth is in slow motion, and still the speaker and his fellows act as though we were living in a bygone era abounding with economic royalists to gouge and production lines to reactivate. Today's production lines need to be rebuilt, and the economic royalists, such as they are, need to be drawn out of tax shelters and into productive investment. Most important, the common man needs a tax break.
Tip O'Neill and his allies may believe that it is 1936, but Ronald Reagan realizes that times have changed. The problems of the present are different from those of yesteryear. Reagan's tax-rate cuts are meant to leave a little more money in our pockets, but they are also meant to do much more. They are meant to stimulate savings, thus reducing inflation, encouraging investment and increasing productivity. Reagan's advisers believe this will mean more jobs, less unemployment outlays (every percentage point drop in unemployment means a savings of about $7 billion in government outlays) and more government revenue. All this means a stronger economy rather than our present heaving, struggling economy. There is no guarantee the Reagan program will succeed, but then the future is never guaranteed. What we do know for a certitude is that the honorable gentlemen's programs have reached the outer limits of the plausible. Let us give three years of tax cuts a chance.