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The Baby Boomers' Election
And, Believe Me, This Is Just The Beginning.
(Welcome The Next Millennium, or, The Other Y2K Problem.)

March 1, 1999

In a recent Bave Barry column he said, "Unless something is done -- and soon -- to relieve the massive buildup of excess tax receipts, the Treasury Building will explode and release its contents into the atmosphere, forming an immense cloud of money. If the wind were to shift the money could fall back to Earth, where some of it could, conceivably, wind up -- this is referred to in top-secret government documents as 'The Doomsday Scenario' -- back into the hands of taxpayers."

But, Barry's humor aside, like the rising popularity of President Bill Clinton in the midst of his impeachment, as the government surplus is stockpiled, there is no taxpayer revolt, no cry to return the money, really. People seem content with the nest egg syndrome, and with the prospect for the possible removal of the social security bankruptcy cloud from the blue skies of America's Y2K future. It's is a little odd, though, because to allow a tax rate to voluntarily continue to be higher than is actually, apparently, needed, is unprecedented. The reduction of the national debt is also an idea whose time has come to the aging bumper crop of babyboomers.

As the Congress grapples with this serendipitous dilemma, here are some of the other issues that will be thrown into the mix: the marriage tax (time to stop discouraging marriage); a tax cut, which seems to offer little or nothing significant to anyone except some ideological relief for the befuddled fiscal extremists; and, importantly, relieving the "death tax," which allows up to 55 percent of your savings to be confiscated when you die.

To me the Social Security reinforcement, ending the marriage tax and the death tax, are going to take front stage and some, if not all three, will fly. The tax cut option will be a political football that will distract from the real debate, and in the end probably develop a constituency of people who distrust the government and still want to show Bill Clinton who's the boss.

And there you have it, the framing of the 2000 Presidential race debate. Tax surpluses, and what to do with all that money. The American people are far more sophisticated at this turn of the century than at the last. They are informed, wary of self-proclaimed righteousness, and ready to do the right thing if someone would just tell them what that really is. George Bush, Jr. versus Al Gore. My money is on Gore, as the one who, in the end, will be more believable to the American people.

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