A few liberal politicians have been forthcoming about their rebates but most are hiding and won't say. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) says he's spending his to pay ‘‘energy bills.'' Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) says she recently moved and will use the rebate to pay her expenses. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) says he's saving his rebate. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) said he's donating his rebate to charity. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) says he's donating his rebate to Habitat for Humanity, a housing program for the poor.
A spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) says her boss hasn't received his check yet and that ‘‘doesn't know'' what he will do with it.
What these people have in common is their opposition to President Bush's tax reduction proposal. Each predicted the end of Medicare, Social Security bankruptcy and the return of deficits. If economic Armageddon is just around the corner where prosperity once lived, isn't it reasonable — even patriotic — to assume that people with such fears would return their rebate checks to the Treasury? No liberal I've talked to in Washington intends to rebate the government with his rebate. How crass. How uncaring. How greedy!
The Communications Workers of America was one liberal group that strongly criticized the Bush tax cut, calling it ‘‘a disservice to the nation.'' A call to CWA's legislative representative, Rosie Torres, who wrote those words, was not returned. Perhaps she's out shopping.
Politicians who have faith that government can spend our money better than we can are obligated to return their checks. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.
Rep. Gephardt gave a speech in Des Moines last weekend in which he defended Democrats who voted in 1993 to raise income and gasoline taxes. Gephardt seemed to suggest that if Democrats regain control of the House, he might push for another tax hike. Last Monday, Gephardt issued a cleverly worded statement that allows him to favor tax increases in the future: ‘‘I never addressed the future of taxes in my remarks because I don't believe they need to be raised.'' Gephardt went on to again denounce the tax rebates and rate reduction as ‘‘overzealous'' and said it ‘‘threatens our prosperity.'' Under such conditions, congressman, the decision about what to do when you receive your rebate check should be obvious. Set a good example and send it back.
As for me, I'm going to spend it to help the economy by sustaining or creating jobs that make the goods or provide the services I will purchase. But I'm waiting a few days. I want to stare just a little longer at a check from the government made out to me.