Gingrich pays price for tax-cut triumph

FROM JOHN CARLIN

in Washington

The Republicans in the House of Representatives celebrated late on Wednesday night the passing of a $189bn (£118bn) tax-cut bill, the "crown jewel" of their Contract with America. Yesterday the hangover set in.

The "Napoleonic" Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House, has achieved in 92 days what he promised to do in 100 - to vote on all 10 of the contract's "revolutionary" items of legislation. Yet he may ponder whether, having won the battles, he will lose the war.

While it is not certain that either the tax bill or the welfare reform bill passed last week by the House will overcome the hurdles of the Senate and the White House and pass into law, what is beyond doubt is that, for all Mr Gingrich's zeal, the Republicans have handed the Democrats a propaganda gift.

Mike McCurry, President Bill Clinton's press secretary, said the tax bill "skews the benefits of tax-cutting legislation disproportionately to the wealthy". Tom Daschle, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said the tax-cutting Republican agenda was "designed to reward the rich and the well-connected, at the expense of America's middle class families". Democratic congressmen contrasted Mr Gingrich's tax cuts with his plans to cut welfare for unwed teenage mothers, cut disability payments for children and do away with job-training programmes for the unemployed. The polls show the propaganda offensive is working. Republicans, and notably Mr Gingrich, are viewed by an increasing number of Americans as mean-spirited.

Wednesday's bill offers a $500-per-child tax credit for families earning up to $200,000 a year and sharp reductions in capital gains tax.

The bill passed after Mr Gingrich succeeded in quashing a revolt by more than 100 Republican congressman who wrote to him two weeks ago saying the ceiling should be reduced from $200,000 to $95,000.

Their arguments were based on a growing public feeling that the Republicans were taking from the poor to give to the rich. The dissenters also felt tax cuts would undermine the task of reducing the federal deficit.

Mr Gingrich reminded the rebels that, by definition, Republicans cut taxes. He bullied them with the threat that if they did not pass the bill he would not let them go home for Easter holidays. The upshot was that he declared the passing of a "truly historic moment and at the same time, a truly personal experience".

House Democrats, envious of Mr Gingrich's discipline over his troops, jeered at the meekness of the Republicans. "They are so cowed, you can almost hear them moo," said Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas.

As for Mr Gingrich's argument, that the higher up the income brackets you extend the tax cuts, the greater the benefits for society, Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington state remarked: "Under the Republican theory of trickle-down economics, working families won't even get wet."

Cold water might be in plentiful supply for Mr Gingrich's tax bill once it reaches the Senate. Senior Senate Republicans wonder how they will be able to make tax cuts and eliminate the budget deficit. Bob Dole, Senate majority leader, said: "We didn't get elected just to rubber- stamp everything the House did.''

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test