Did you see Vice President Cheney and Senator Clinton on ‘Meet the Press’ yesterday? Twenty minutes with Cheney followed by twenty minutes with Clinton? I thought both did very well. We are fortunate to have such exceptionally bright, decent people in public service.

But Tim Russert gave the Vice President a huge ‘pass’ with respect to Cheney’s spin on the economic stimulus package. Cheney said it’s imperative we get this economic stimulus package passed in the Senate . . . that Tom Daschle is delaying it and, therefore, extending the recession and keeping people out of work. (Neither Cheney or Russert mentioned that Daschle, et al, are pushing, and the administration is fighting, what many consider to be a much better stimulus package.)

Where was this question from Tim Russert: ‘But Mr. Vice President, the Democrats argue that sending $25 billion in retroactive tax cuts to companies like IBM won’t lead to any stimulus. They say IBM and most of the other big beneficiaries already have tons of cash. What do you see IBM doing with this cash that would stimulate the economy?’

And he might have asked this: ‘The Democrats say that by repealing the alternative minimum tax for corporations, and rolling it back to 1986, you are exempting many big corporations from paying any income tax at all. What do you say to charges that this so-called economic stimulus package is in large part just a gift to big business?’

(Or even this: ‘Where would you recoup that tax you are exempting IBM from? From the prescription-drug benefit that was once proposed for seniors? From future generations of working men and women, by piling it onto the national debt, which rose by $3 trillion from 1980-1992?’)

And speaking of helping the big boys avoid taxes . . . well, come back tomorrow.


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