Have you ever been in a situation when you've promised to do two things that completely conflict? If so, you know how the Republican Congress feels right now. Having pledged both the fabled gilt calf--a middle-class tax cut--and a balanced budget, the Republicans have set themselves up to be drawn and quartered.
Here's our weekly refresher course in fiscal logic for the Contract Congress: When you're trying to cut the budget deficit, you don't cut taxes. The reasoning is simple; if you want to minimize the gap between revenues and spending, don't cut revenues while you're cutting spending. To do so makes the job twice as difficult.
When the newly elected President Clinton told all Americans that they would have to sacrifice to pull the country out of recession, many moaned and groaned. But the Republicans, thanks to their doubly painful dose of flawed economic planning, have brought sacrifice to new heights--at least, for some people.
While the oddly-defined middle class receives its tax cut, legions of others suffer. Medicaid and Medicare recipients suffer, students receiving federal aid suffer, and welfare recipients will probably suffer as well. If you're not in the Republican version of the middle class, there's plenty of suffering to go around.
Looking at the numbers, it's clear that the quarter-trillion-dollar tax cut has added an undue burden to an already arduous process. A proposed cut of $10 billion in student aid, only one twenty-fifth of the size of the middle class tax cut, appears to be only a drop in the bucket. But for thousands of students, that money is no such thing.
We firmly believe that the Congress is trying to walk before it has proven its ability to crawl. The middle class tax cut signifies the Congress' mad rush to secure the presidency in 1996. But balancing the budget will be task enough for the next couple of years--we can save that tax cut for a healthier economy.