December 18, 2000
Texas Governor George W. Bush officially became our president-elect last week, following a series of legal challenges to the exceedingly close certified election results. The election seems to have exposed a deep political division in the country: support for the two candidates is decidedly even, mirroring the 50-50 party split in the Senate and an almost evenly divided Congress. The highly criticized 5-4 final Supreme Court decision shows how equally divided the nation really is.
With the election finally decided, the media and the Washington pundits have decided that the key to success for the new administration in the aftermath of such a close election is "reaching out across party lines." Partisanship, we are told, must give way to bipartisan agreement so that the nation may begin to "heal itself." Of course there is some merit to this argument; certainly Americans are prepared for a unifying presence in the White House. The political rhetoric of this election year, which was more about power than ideology, will not be missed in the coming months. America clearly is eager to forget about politics and enjoy the holidays.
Still, it is important to understand that the calls for "bipartisanship" really are nothing less than political threats aimed at president-elect Bush. Mainstream media and collectivist politicians want to create an atmosphere where adherence to principles and ideology is mischaracterized as mean-spirited or divisive. In other words, they are warning Bush not to pursue a conservative, limited government agenda. The not-so-subtle threat is that the administration will face a political firestorm unless it continues Clinton era policies, which are incorrectly presented as "bipartisan." For example, one prominent Senator recently called on Bush to insure passage of a "patient's bill of rights," which he insisted was mandated by widespread bipartisan support. This is nonsense, of course; most Americans rightfully oppose the terrible trend toward a government controlled health care system. Yet we are led to believe that Bush must accept and even endorse such proposals to expand the government's role in medicine in order to demonstrate "bipartisan cooperation."
Similarly, president-elect Bush will be advised to drop more "controversial" aspects of his campaign agenda, especially tax relief. However, history shows that voters remember when campaign promises are abandoned. Bush must not allow the post-election atmosphere to soften his commitment to tax relief, which the overwhelming majority of Americans really do support.
Specifically, he must honor his pledge to end the estate tax and eliminate the marriage tax penalty. It is far more important, politically and morally, for Bush to keep his campaign promises than it is for him to appease his opponents in Congress. He should be prepared to ignore the chorus of voices, including some Republicans, urging him to abandon tax cuts. Tax relief is the primary reason why many Americans vote Republican. Bush knows this, but the pressure to surrender will become intense. Abandoning tax cuts may make the president-elect more popular with the liberal establishment, but it also would offend his conservative base.
Finally, it should be noted that many Democrats have indicated a willingness to support a tax cut package. Bush should remind everyone of these promises. Liberals and the media will attempt to characterize tax cuts as "too expensive" or a threat to the "surplus." The new administration must promote spending reductions as the key to fiscally responsible government. Government spending has reached mind-boggling levels; sane reductions easily could allow for tax relief without deficit spending by Congress.