by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl
Should the government cut taxes?
That's the debate going on in Washington right now.
Over the next 10 years, the government is projected to run a surplus of $3.3 trillion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. To put it another way, Americans will pay more in taxes than the government is budgeted to need - thus, a tax overpayment.
Now, when you pay more tax than required on April 15, you get a refund. Many members of Congress, myself included, believe that after Social Security, Medicare, and our other spending priorities have been protected, the taxpayers should likewise get a refund of the tax overpayment they have made.
President Clinton and some congressional Democrats have tried to claim that the country can't "afford" a tax cut. As Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey recently wrote in the Washington Post, however, "To suggest we can't afford to cut income taxes when we are running a $3 trillion surplus is ludicrous."
Congressional Republicans have proposed a plan to protect important government programs and provide the American people with significant tax relief. Three-quarters of the surplus, or 75 cents of every surplus dollar, will go to Social Security, to government spending on Medicare and other domestic priorities, and toward reducing the national debt. One-quarter of the surplus, or a quarter of every surplus dollar, will be refunded to the taxpayers.
President Clinton, on the other hand, has proposed something else. While the President would put aside the same amount of money for Social Security and debt reduction - there is no difference between how much Republicans and the President dedicate to these important categories - the President would like to take the rest of the surplus and spend it.
Not only does the President not propose returning any of taxpayers' money, he actually proposes a slight tax increase!
Remember, though, this is the same president who told a New York audience earlier this year that he wasn't sure what to do with the impending surplus. One option, President Clinton said, was to return the surplus to the taxpayers and "hope you spend it the right way." He apparently chose another option.
The President has chosen to put his faith in the federal government's ability to better spend the taxpayers' money than the taxpayers. Congressional Republicans, myself included, believe taxpayers should be trusted to spend their refund.
Here's the point: The term "surplus" presupposes that important government programs have been protected (including Social Security). The question is: Who do you want to spend what's left? The government in Washington or the taxpayers of America?