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Flash Traffic | Political Buzz from Washington

Issue: "When liberals seize a state," Aug. 31, 2002

Don't spend it just yet. But Republicans are talking tax cuts and they appear to have the blessing of President Bush and his economic advisers. House Republican leaders are developing new legislation designed to inject new life into the sluggish economy and to promote new confidence in the bearish stock markets. Chief White House economic adviser Larry Lindsey and his team have spent much of August developing a tax-cut package that the president may announce right after Labor Day.
Under consideration: raising the limit on investment losses that can be written off each year; increasing the amount of money Americans can invest tax free into IRA and 401(k) plans; cutting taxes on corporate dividends; and even cutting the capital gains tax rate, an idea President Bush and Mr. Lindsey have long seen as a "political loser." They have warmed to the idea since talking with Charles Schwab and other investment experts at the president's economic forum this month at Baylor. Mr. Bush told those who attended the forum that he's particularly concerned about the burdens of double taxation on small investors and small-business owners. Any new GOP tax-cut package will be almost impossible to pass through a Daschle-controlled Senate. GOP strategists say that's exactly the point: Paint Democrats as pro-tax and anti-growth in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections.

Watch the Sept. 10 GOP primary in New Hampshire: U.S. Sen. Bob Smith faces an aggressive challenge from Rep. John Sununu, son of the former White House chief of staff. Recent polls indicate a majority of New Hampshire Republicans are leaning toward Rep. Sununu, in part because they believe the 38-year-old legislator is a better choice to hold the seat for Republicans against a powerful challenge by current Democrat Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

President Bush will be in New York for a series of events to help commemorate 9/11. He'll follow those with a major address to the United Nations the next day. Then, it's back to politics. President Bush and Vice President Cheney plan to travel the country extensively this fall for GOP congressional candidates, and to headline a huge Senate campaign fundraiser in Washington. A day-long series of private meetings for donors and senior GOP officials on Sept. 25 will conclude with the gala dinner event at the Mayflower Hotel. It could raise as much as $10 million.

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Two of the most controversial members of Congress won't be back next year: Republican Rep. Bob Barr and Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney, both from Georgia. The redistricted Barr, a House impeachment manager and one of President Clinton's most vocal critics, lost big to Rep. John Linder, 64 percent to 36 percent, in a bruising primary on Aug. 20, despite strong support from outside-the-state conservative personalities.
Rep. McKinney, the outspoken African-American liberal who once accused President Bush of knowing of the 9/11 attacks in advance but doing nothing to stop them, lost convincingly to former judge Denise Majette, 58 percent to 42 percent. Rep. McKinney and her team also repeatedly made comments perceived as anti-Israel during the campaign, while Ms. Majette-also an African-American liberal-reached out to Jewish and pro-Israel voters and raised campaign contributions from Jewish Democrats both inside and outside of Georgia. Upon hearing the news, state Rep. Billy McKinney told Atlanta's WXIA-TV that he suspects conspiracy: "Jews have bought everybody. J-E-W-S." Ms. Majette promised not to embarrass the district if she's elected in the largely Democratic district in November.

Florida Democrats are crying foul that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is meeting on Sept. 9 with Gov. Jeb Bush. Democratic operatives fear voters will interpret the visit as an endorsement of Gov. Bush the day before their gubernatorial primary and two months before the November elections. There's little doubt that Team Jeb is making a concerted effort to win a larger percentage of the Jewish vote. Florida has the third-largest Jewish community in the United States, the majority of whose members traditionally vote Democratic.

Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg

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