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INSTEAD OF FIGHTING A CLASS WAR, WHY NOT PASS UNIVERSAL TAX CUT?

SHARE INSTEAD OF FIGHTING A CLASS WAR, WHY NOT PASS UNIVERSAL TAX CUT?

In the White House, the catch-phrase must have seemed like a good idea: Marry F.D.R.'s "Economic Bill of Rights" with Bill Clinton's campaign promise of a "middle-class tax cut" to dress up a necessary placation of the overtaxed as a "Middle-Class Bill of Rights."

But the first thing we don't need is a new assertion of economic "rights," long the basis for budget-busting "entitlements." Clinton proposes that all taxpayers subsidize a large portion of what some taxpayers will spend on college for their youngsters.Making tax-deductible what some spend on higher education has appeal. But by increasing demand, it pushes up the exorbitant costs of college and does nothing to encourage students to work while studying. The only free-market way to encourage prestige colleges to cut costs and become competitive is to reduce subsidies and tamp down demand.

Let's say the unsayable: Higher education is a privilege, not a right, best to be earned by high-school scholarship merit and willingness to work or borrow. The notion that equal opportunity can be guaranteed by sprinkling degrees on everyone is going out with the welfare state.

The second thing we don't need is the embrace of "class" as a way to categorize American society.

Here's the current state of class warfare. To be a member of the Lower Class is to be a helpless victim of an unfair system, or a lazy bum. To be a member of the Middle Class is to be a wonderful mainstreamer, justly resentful of being put upon by the leeches below and top-hatted bloodsuckers above. To be a member of the Upper Class is to be selfish and sinful.

What kind of a warped outlook is this to apply to a quarter-billion Americans? Why let politicians patronize the poor as pitiable Lowers, lionize those closest to median incomes as long-suffering Middles, and satanize the most successful and productive as greedy Uppers?

That applies political demography to outdated sociology. The divisive Marxist concept of class is social as well as economic, and Americans should never accept its confines. Class is not determined by income alone; richies can be low-class slobs and the genteel down-at-the-heels can be high-class povertarians.

Only because the vast majority of voters are near the non-poor, non-rich median do pols lump these diverse individuals together in a deliciously average economic/social "class," to be flattered and cosseted. But the people with the most voting power are not a class of any kind.

The "middle-class tax cut," which is at the heart of this rhetorical demeaning of our real Bill of Rights, is the newest way of saying "Let's keep on soaking the rich."

But the evokers of class warfare are out of step with the people they purport to speak for. Most of them see the problem with taxes not as "The rich are not paying their fair share," but "We're all paying too much, especially me."

People near the median would like to keep what they earn, make the savings work for them and thereby become "upper class." Such ambition is not to be apologized for; it used to be described as the American Dream.

In Clinton's coming Republican half-term, the healthiest and fairest tax relief will be across the board, flattening rates and closing loopholes for everyone - all-class, no-class economic policy.