By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
As Al Gore continued to flounder, Bill Clinton's weekend shootout at the National Governors' Conference set the cutting-edge issue of the presidential campaign in sharp relief. The president warned the mostly Republican governors that the GOP's "risky" $792 billion tax cut would negatively affect their state budgets, adding, "Because this tax cut will not save and strengthen Medicare, because it will not add a day to the Social Security trust fund, because it will not pay down the debt and pay it off for the first time in 150 years, this tax cut will not become law."
The Republicans have long been determined to push tax relief, along with their privatization of Social Security and Medicare, as a major plank in the 2000 campaign. And they've fought hard to enliven these dull issues. Senate majority leader Trent Lott's rapturous comments are typical. "When you go through the list of things that are achieved in this tax relief package, it does an awful lot for the American dream," Lott gushed. "It means that every working American that pays taxes will be able to keep a little bit more of their money in their pocket and decide how they will use it."
Of course, the GOP tax bill won't do a lot for ordinary people. What it will do is widen the already enormous gap between the rich and the poor. The nearly two-thirds of taxpayers who are middle-income and below would get less than 8 percent of the cuts. Their average reduction would be only $138 a year.
Meanwhile, 69 percent of the reductions would be lavished on the wealthiest one-tenth of the nation, with these individuals enjoying an average annual tax cut of $7600. The richer you are, the more you would get. Individuals making more than $301,000 would get a $46,000 cut every year.
As for the working poor, i.e., those making less than $13,000, their big break would amount to $24.
Tippecanoe, Arthur Too
Gore Campaign Taking on Water
Poor Gore. In addition to being hounded by AIDS activists and criticized in animal-rights ads by Bea Arthur, he's now taking heat from environmentalists. With the Northeast in the grip of one of the century's worst droughts, questions persist about the vice president's humiliatingly botched photo-op in a canoe a couple of weeks ago.
It seems that the utility PG&E rerouted its electrical supply and opened a dam on the Connecticut River to send half a billion gallons of water rushing into a stream bed so Gore could look ducky on that campaign swing, during which he promoted regulations restricting the amount of water to be used in flushing toilets.
Not only did the ensuing media blitz make Gore look foolish, but last week the New Hampshire Republican State Committee asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate Gore for accepting an illegal campaign contribution.
"It would have cost New Englanders up to $7 million to use the same amount of water that was released to float Vice President Gore's boat," said committee chair Stephen M. Duprey. Gore staffers insist they told the utility not to raise the river, and were surprised when their request was ignored.
Respect Mates, Bush Ally Tells Women
James Dobson, one of the Religious Right leaders who was courted by George W. Bush earlier this year, told more than 8000 women gathered in an arena outside Denver recently that they must respect their husbands. In turn, said the founder and president of Focus on the Family, quoting from scripture, husbands must love their wives.
Dobson conceded that it might be difficult to obey an alcoholic or a workaholic. However, the preacher, who has been recovering from a stroke and is photographed only from his left side, told the female throng: "There are needs that men have that you need to meet. Men need respect just as much as you need love."
Commenting on the high school massacre in nearby Littleton, Colorado, Dobson added that there are women so twisted that they just don't deserve love. He said the Columbine shootings are only the latest proof that many young boys are in trouble because feminists have tried to change the way boys are raised and have left them confused.
Matter Over Mind
Fear and Trembling in Texas
In Texas, fundamentalists like Dobson and presidential candidate Gary Bauer are coming to the support of evangelicals in Wichita Falls who are attempting to oust books like Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy's Roommate from the kiddie section of the public library. As the Texas Observer reports, the struggle galvanizes every corner of the community. Wichita Falls, in a rabidly fundamentalist area, is home to Midwestern State University. In May, Midwestern State graduation ceremonies nearly turned into a charismatic paroxysm as student Mary King mounted the rostrum to give the invocation:
"Dear Lord," she began tremblingly, "Before I ask you to bless myself and my fellow graduates, I repent for myself and my peers for the sin of idolatry. Forgive us, Lord, for worshipping the intellectual mind. I repent for the humanism that we have embraced. I repent for our attempt to fill the void in our lives with anything other than you. I repent for impure passions and desires, for our compromise, for our disobedience."