The Web's Best Political News Summary: Feb. 7: Let's Get Workable:

But they hit the nail gleefully on the head in suggesting the Democrats have no message (yet) on the economy.

Because of a fervent war spirit and a desire to support our fighting men and women, even liberals in Congress feel compelled, at what appears to be a 100% rate, to fully support the president's request for Pentagon spending. Having conceded the macro number, however, little thought seems to be going into HOW to spend the money, which would seem kinda important too, even if you concede that the amount the president chose is exactly right, and not too high.

A former Joint Chiefs vice chair co-signs a New York Times op-ed piece with the courage to question both: "Congress cheered President Bush's pledge, in the State of the Union address, to spend 'whatever it costs to defend our country.' But here's the secret. Mr. Bush already has most of the money he seeks. And absent real reform, most of the additional money Congress ultimately approves — the president has requested a quarter of a trillion dollars more over the next five years — will never reach our fighting men and women in the field." ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/07/opinion/07OWEN.html )

The Economy

America's Taxman, the New York Times David Cay Johnston, has a fascinating story on how income and tax payment distribution changed during the late 1990s. We are sure that someone from the Heritage Foundation will soon slice and dice these numbers in order to challenge them, and claim they are the skewed product of the "liberal" New York Times . But while we wait for that, there IS some interesting stuff here. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/07/business/07TAX.html )

First, Bill Clinton always said he didn't oppose wealth and was happy to see as many new millionaires as the country could provide. Well, he got his way: "The number of Americans with million-dollar incomes more than doubled from 1995 through 1999, as their salaries and their profits from stocks soared, government figures to be published today show. The percentage of their income that went to federal income taxes, however, fell by 11 percent," suggesting that Clinton-Gore didn't raise taxes on the wealthy quite as much as some had thought.

Also germane to the current tax debate: "Although more than half of all families are investors in the stock market, largely through 401(k)'s and similar retirement plans, wealth in America is more highly concentrated today than at any time since 1929, said Professor Edward N. Wolff, a New York University economist."

Campaign Finance Law Vote

The Washington Post reports that House Speaker Hastert finally is wading into the thick of the Shays-Meehan debate, opposing the bill and planning to "personally lobby wavering House Republicans, who typically are loath to defy their leader on a high-profile issue." ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35319-2002Feb6.html )

"At yesterday's closed meeting, Hastert declared, 'This is Armageddon,' participants said. He called it 'a life and death issue' for the GOP, they added. His remarks reflected a growing unease among Republicans that the bill would give their opponents a critical advantage in the closing months of this year's congressional elections … If approved, the bill would take effect in 30 days, although lawmakers are considering delaying it until 2003."

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