Inside Politics

Article excerpt

WATERLOGGED

Al Gore's own "Watergate" embarrassment is filtering into the strangest places - such as the congressional debate over whether to overturn the unpopular 1992 law that sharply restricted the size of all new toilets in America.

Although the restrictions were signed into law by a Republican president, George Bush, the idea enjoyed wide support among Democrats - who then controlled both chambers of Congress - including Mr. Gore, who was then a senator from Tennessee.

Mr. Gore's current presidential campaign has been buffeted by fierce criticism since last week after local officials released 4 billion gallons of water from a New Hampshire reservoir - despite a severe drought throughout the state - to make sure the vice president's canoe did not get stuck in the mud downstream during an appearance designed to highlight his environmental record.

That 4 billion gallons is roughly equivalent to the one-day water usage from all the toilet flushes in the United States. That single release was equivalent to 2.5 billion flushes of a low-flow toilet or 1.1 billion flushes from an older model.

"Al Gore and the liberals tell us to hold our water, while they waste 4 billion gallons in the middle of a drought to float their own boat for a photo-op," Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson said in a press release yesterday, distributed at a hearing on the toilet restrictions.

WHAT GREENSPAN SAID

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, in testimony to Congress last week, supposedly trashed GOP tax-cut plans, or at least that's what the Democrats said and the media reported. But "the truth is more interesting," the Wall Street Journal says.

"My first priority, if I were given such a priority, is to let the surpluses run," Mr. Greenspan said. "As I've said before, my second priority is if you find that as a consequence of those surpluses they tend to be spent, then I would be more in the camp of cutting taxes, because the least desirable is using those surpluses for expanding outlays."

The Journal noted in an editorial: "For some reason, the press corps never mentioned this spending caveat, as large as it is. We don't know how they missed it, because a short time later the Fed chief said he'd delay tax cutting `unless, as I've indicated many times, it appears that the surplus is going to become a lightning rod for major increases in outlays. That's the worst of all possible worlds, from a fiscal policy point of view, and that, under all conditions, should be avoided.' "

And Mr. Greenspan did not stop there. "I have great sympathy," he said, "for those who wish to cut taxes now to pre-empt that process, and indeed, if it turns out that they are right, then I would say moving on the tax front makes a good deal of sense to me."

MORE WHOPPERS

"And, by the way, don't believe Mr. Clinton when he claims, as he did in his Saturday radio address, that `the GOP tax cut is so large it would require dramatic cuts in vital areas, such as education, the environment, biomedical research, defense and crime fighting,' " the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial yesterday.

"As [the Congressional Budget Office] shows, since 1990 domestic spending (not including entitlements) has increased by 5 percent a year; that's roughly double the rate of inflation."

The newspaper added: "Mr. Clinton has taken to lying with such fluency that his whoppers are barely even noticed. We're not optimistic that anyone else will keep him honest. But we thought our readers would like to know."

33 CANDLES

Officials at the Legal Services Corp., the quasi-governmental legal-aid agency that recently admitted over-reporting its caseload to Congress, celebrated the group's 25th birthday at the White House yesterday. Former LSC Chairman Hillary Rodham Clinton helped out with the festivities. …