January 23, 2003

January 23, 2003 | Commentary on Taxes

Words for the SOTU

In a national poll conducted for Time and CNN shortly before the 2000 election, respondents were asked whether they considered themselves to be among the wealthiest one percent of all Americans. Purveyors of class warfare must have been despondent to learn - and the president would do well to remember - that 19 percent believed they earned enough to qualify for that exalted status. Another 20 percent told the pollsters that they fully expected to enter the ranks of the wealthiest one percent in the near future. Imagine: Two in five Americans hear the heated rhetoric about the "wealthiest one percent" and take it as a personal affront!

This optimism is not "irrational exuberance." Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, points to studies that confirm the enormous upward economic mobility in American society. Over a ten-year period, Hubbard notes, 66 percent of low-wage earners earn enough to move up to a higher bracket.

The president speaks to the aspiring millionaires among us when he describes how ending the double taxation of dividends will boost the value of our 401(k)s and how lower marginal tax rates will benefit everyone. He should be unapologetic when he explains how workers could use private retirement accounts, carved out from a portion of their Social Security taxes, to secure their futures and pass along a nest egg to their children. He should burst with pride when he tells us how tax credits for uninsured workers to purchase health coverage would end their exposure to the devastating financial consequences of uninsured medical catastrophes and allow them to build future wealth. He should let his emotions betray his passion when he explains how meaningful forms of educational choice would allow parents who are frustrated with failing and dangerous public schools to save their children by moving them to successful schools.

If President Bush seizes the mantle of Reaganesque optimism, his ambitious domestic agenda will prevail.

Michael G. Franc is vice president for government relations at the Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Michael Franc Distinguished Fellow
Government Studies

Originally appered as part of a symposium in National Review Online