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Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Rockwell's resurgence," Nov. 24, 2001

It's hard to believe it's been a full year since the closest and most bizarre presidential election in U.S. history. The media are still bickering about the outcome. But a full 50 percent of Americans now believe George W. Bush won "fair and square." Only 32 percent believe he won on a "technicality," and a mere 15 percent believe Bush "stole the election." This according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. What about a rematch? Here's where we see how much public opinion has changed recently. In a Bush-Gore rematch, 61 percent of Americans say they would vote for President Bush in 2004, with only 35 percent preferring Al Gore. President Bush continues to hammer Congress to pass an aggressive stimulus package by the end of this month. But now the Heritage Foundation has handed him a bigger hammer: a detailed comparison of the GOP and Democrat packages. The verdict? In 2002 alone, the Bush-Grassley plan will produce "nearly twice as many jobs" as the plan offered by Sen. Tom Daschle (211,000 vs. 108,000), concludes economist Bill Beach. By 2006, the Bush-Grassley plan helps to produce "over seven times more jobs" than Daschle's plan does. Beach also projects that the disposable income of the average family of four would increase by about $1,060 a year under the Bush-Grassley plan, but only by $236 a year under Daschle's plan. Investment would also grow 13 times faster under the Bush plan. Why? The Bush-Grassley plan, by accelerating the phase-in of the marginal tax rate reductions, gives people more incentive to work, save, invest, and spend because they'll get to keep more of what they make. It also accelerates capital depreciation write-offs for business and repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax. Those changes reduce the cost of capital, which gives businesses more money to hire new employees to power their expansion. The Daschle plan relies heavily on tax credits and increased government spending, particularly on expanding Medicaid entitlements. When he huddled with Hollywood titans in Beverly Hills recently, White House strategist Karl Rove did not make demands. He briefed the executives on the current war against the al-Qaeda terrorist network and asked them to help rally the troops, inform the country of the dangers ahead, and explain to the world that the United States is only acting in self-defense. The 40-or-so participants in the room, mostly Democrats, generally supported the Bush administration's effort to make them part of the war effort. "The war against terrorism crosses party lines," said Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing. "All of us in the industry have this incredible need and urge to do something." Concrete steps may include more USO Tours, public-service announcements, and showing more family-friendly films on U.S. military bases. Film content was not discussed. Rove also brought along one specific request via an e-mail he'd received from an American sailor aboard the U.S.S. Teddy Roosevelt aircraft carrier: Could we get some first-run movies on video and DVD? "We've got a lot of movies, but they're all old, and we've seen them lots of times." Republicans are still grumbling about President Bush's refusal to campaign publicly with Mark Earley in Virginia and Bret Schundler in New Jersey. White House and GOP strategists insist the president did the right thing, staying above the fray in wartime. They say the real problem was that security threats prevented Dick Cheney from playing the role of political cheerleader-in-chief. The Secret Service continues to keep Cheney in various "undisclosed" locations-away from Bush and largely away from public view-to prevent terrorists from being able to "decapitate" the government. The VP jokes about the situation. He recently told an audience at the Waldorf Hotel in New York, "It's nice, for a change, to be at a disclosed location. [My wife] Lynne and I haven't been out much lately. And the Waldorf is a lot nicer than our cave." But the political cost aside, the arrangement actually seems to suit Cheney-a behind-the-scenes kind of guy-just fine. "We are in communication all the time," Cheney says of his relationship with the president. "We spend a couple of hours together every morning [by] secure video conference capability that I have with me wherever I go."

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg


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