Monday, October 09, 2006 :::
Conaway leads us to the Webb campaign site and it's side-by-side issues comparison with George Allen. It's a fairly broad list, covering the usual topics like education, budgeting and the like.
Some of Webb's stands are laudable -- like creating a panel to look into possible and probable waste in war/reconstruction spending (though the bullet point reason for this, "Jim knows we need a new set of eyes on the problem," is incredibly shallow).
Others are problematic. The idea of instituting "pay as you go" budget rules on Congress sounds wonderful and would actually be a tremendous improvement over current drunken sailor model. The problem here isn't so much Jim Webb as it is the rest of Congress. There is no institutional, political or personal incentive for the majority to abandon the status quo. And as far as I can tell, "pay as you go," while it does have a certain Byrd-like ring, means that one of the first things to go will be the Bush tax cuts. But government does not have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. Always has. The long established, but still seemingly lost point for Democrats is that cutting tax rates results in increased revenues. I would be far more interested in learning where Mr. Webb would make spending cuts -- real cuts -- to bring us closer to a balanced budget. I suspect some of those would come from Iraq, which raises other matters beyond the budget.
One thing that could change the spending incentives is a balanced budget amendment, which Webb opposes. Well, so much for hard restraint.
On other matters, Webb is for raising the minimum wage (which begs the question -- why not raise it to $25 or $50 an hour? That would address the issue of "economic fairness" and prevent the three-way split Webb sees developing in society). He's against drilling in ANWR and for imposing a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies. Who wrote those planks, Jimmy Carter?
Meanwhile, Webb is four-square behind the idea of making college tuition tax-deductible. There's a certain appeal to this as someone who will, one day, have to face tuition bills. But, if we are also going to buy into the "pay as you go" strategy, what would Mr. Webb do to cover the cost of this effort? I'm all ears.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 10/09/2006