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COLUMN RIGHT / BOB DOLE : Make It Year of the Taxpayer, Not of the Tax : Voters in Texas have sent a message to Washington: Cut spending first.

June 13, 1993|BOB DOLE | Bob Dole of Kansas is the Senate Republican Leader.

1993 should be the Year of the Taxpayer. But if the Senate can't muster enough courage to defeat President Clinton's $275-billion tax-increase plan, 1993 will be remembered simply as the Year of the Tax.

The good news is that the American people are catching on. Take a look at Los Angeles and Texas.

In L.A., voters elected Richard Riordan, who will be the first Republican in three decades to run the city. It was the latest proof that people of all parties and ethnic backgrounds are looking to Republican leadership to help solve our national and urban challenges, including job creation and fighting crime.

Meanwhile, in electing Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison to the U.S. Senate with an astounding 67% of the vote, the people of Texas have sent all of us in Washington--the President, Democrats and Republicans alike--an unmistakable message: cut spending first, and junk the Clinton tax agenda. Make 1993 the Year of the Taxpayer.

Worried Democrats are doing their best to put a happy face on the 2-1 Texas blowout and the stunning Riordan victory. But if President Clinton's narrow, 5-point election victory over President Bush was a message of "change," then the 34-point Texas win isn't just a message, it's a direct order to steer away from Clinton's taxes and toward spending cuts that his plan doesn't deliver.

Republicans simply can't support a bloated tax package that raises $6.35 in taxes and fees for every dollar in cuts during the next five years, socks taxpayers with $20 in taxes for every dollar cut in the first year and has already been silently taxing many Americans retroactively since Jan. 1.

The Year of the Taxpayer can be a reality if our Democratic colleagues join us in this mission. Just as Senate Republicans proposed a deficit-reduction plan in March to slash the deficit more than the President proposes without raising taxes, we will offer a common-sense alternative that will put the focus on real spending cuts: Drop all of the President's proposed "investments," which are nothing but new spending; pull the plug on the sinister "broad-based energy tax"; kill the rest of the Clinton tax increases--all of them; consider all of the President's spending cuts; limit the growth of non-Social Security entitlement programs and freeze most other government programs for at least one year.

Last week, I traveled to Kansas, California and five other states. Here's what the American people are telling us:

* Don't kill job creation with big new taxes on employers.

* Don't tell us you're raising taxes on the so-called rich, when most of those taxes fall on Main Street businessmen and women, many of whom pay taxes as individuals, not wealthy corporations.

* Don't raise taxes retroactively to Jan. 1, 1993--it's unfair, and besides, President Clinton wasn't even in office then.

* Don't raise taxes on senior citizens' Social Security benefits and then use the money for more spending and not deficit reduction.

* If it is revived, the BTU energy tax would result in higher costs to consumers, and huge job losses for workers. In most of America, BTU stands for Big Time Unemployment.

* The bottom line is, cut spending first.

The White House says it is willing to make some minor changes, but unless it wakes up to the message from Texas and performs major reconstructive surgery, the American taxpayers will be scarred for life. And let's face it, Democrats compromising with Democrats won't do the trick--voters in Texas and L.A. are convinced that Republicans are part of the solution, not part of the background. The Democratic majority may have the muscle to pass this devastating tax package, but few Americans will be applauding the political "victory."

President Clinton should scrap his high-tax, low-spending-cut package and start over with Democrats and Republicans working together to cut spending first before we ask the American taxpayers to sacrifice one dime. We hear that the BTU tax is dead, but don't start celebrating yet. Democrats say they are open to energy tax alternatives, so long as they "tax energy consumers, not producers."

If the President heeds the warning from Texas and California, changes course and works on a bipartisan basis to bring down the deficit by cutting spending first, we may be able to thank the voters of Texas for saving the American economy. The stakes are high. If we can work together to carry out the Texas / L.A. mandate, we can make the Year of the Taxpayer a year to remember.

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