Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kemp Boosts Dole's Dream Theme

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kemp Boosts Dole's Dream Theme

Article excerpt

Introducing Jack Kemp on his way to the Republican convention, Bob Dole unabashedly adopted John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign theme: "Let's get America moving again."

Dole revealed to reporters that this pocketbook-first approach has been in his head for six weeks. It explains his decision to base his campaign on tax cuts and productivity, and to choose as running mate the architect of Reagan-era stimulus.

But isn't America moving briskly already? Not for most; as Kemp tirelessly points out, middle-class "family income, which grew at an average annual rate of 1.7 percent during the Reagan expansion years, has not grown at all during Clinton's tenure as president."

That's the nub of it: Rising taxes and stagnant wages make claims of prosperity ring hollow for most of the middle class.

Not for nothing did Dole label his plan "restoring the American Dream." That dream is a steadily rising standard of living for all, with each generation better off than the last. It happened in the Reagan '80s; it's not happening now.

Clinton's initial response has been to point to the deficits of the Reagan prosperity and claim they were caused by tax reduction. As the Washington Post's David Broder points out, this "running against Reagan" is the same blunder Clinton committed in 1994, pooh-poohing the GOP's Contract With America. The Reagan era of prosperity is not seen by most people as a nightmare, but rightly as the time of the Dream.

The deficits that burden us now did not come from Reagan tax cuts - revenues rose with growth - but mainly from a Democratic Congress' refusal to slow the growth of spending.

Now the poll-driven Clinton is posing as a deficit cutter, a death-bed conservative demanding to know where Dole will "cut" to offset his tax relief. Dole would be a sucker to specify what everybody knows is needed - a modest reduction in the rate of growth of entitlements - because the demagogue in Clinton has shown in his budget vetoes he would go "aha! …

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