Yesterday I suggested that only Jack Kemp, of the Dole/Kemp ticket, actually believes in a 15% income tax cut right now. Tax-cut talk is a good way to buy votes, but not appropriate fiscal policy when the economy is expanding. Save it for when, say, you are trying to climb out of a recession or, when, say, you’re projecting a budget surplus.

But just as Dole’s marketing guys have analyzed the polls and focus groups and forced him to swallow the 15% tax cut line . . . and a running mate he’s never much cared for who actually believes in the tax cut and will sell it well . . . so have they also slipped him a good “surrogate” tax cut that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Even the Washington Post editorial page — never staunchly Republican — likes it.

It’s the Moynihan/Lieberman/Dole/McConnell bipartisan “choice no-fault” auto insurance bill introduced in the Senate June 11 that would basically let vehicle owners around the country decide whether they like their auto insurance the way it is, as some do, or would prefer to opt out of the lawsuit-lottery in return for sharply lower premiums and limited but guaranteed benefits if they’re hurt — even if they can’t prove the other guy was at fault.

Roughly the same thing was handed Bush in the last weeks of his faltering campaign, and he was actually set to deliver a speech about it in New Jersey the day — my memory is hazy on this, but was it the day the guy in the chicken suit showed up taunting him to debate? Or the day the guy in the chicken suit showed up one time too many and Bush finally lost his cool? I just remember that it was the day Bush actually quit in the middle of his speech, or no one heard him because of all the paCAW, paCAWing, and this last-minute proposal sank before it had even really surfaced.

If it grabs anyone’s attention this time around, I’ll go into more detail, because it’s a plan that could basically put $200 or $300 into the average family’s pocket — not with a tax cut that just winds up lifting interest rates (and thus taking away that same $200 or $300 because of higher variable-rate mortgage payments, etc.) but in +real savings on the legal expenses and fraud built into today’s auto insurance in almost every state but Michigan.

(Michigan has pretty close to real no-fault auto insurance. If you’re hurt — even if it was a hit-and-run or a one-car crash, or not the other driver’s fault — you get unlimited medical care and rehabilitation, plus generous wage loss coverage. Yet, because suits for pain and suffering are sharply limited, auto insurance in Michigan costs less than in, say, California, where if you’re hurt you often get nothing despite the high premiums.)

It’s a long story, so for now consider this nothing more than a “heads up.” If you hear Dole/Kemp talking about it (and if you own a car) — listen. You should vote for Clinton/Gore, in my view; but this $300-per-family saving would be like a tax cut that did make economic sense.


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