Now presiding over this whole economic shell game is new Treasury Secretary John Snow. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman points out this week, Snow sat as CEO of railroad giant CSX while, during the years 1998–2001, it raked in nearly a billion dollars in profit. Not only did CSX not pay a cent of income tax during that period, it actually got back $164 million in tax rebates. Don’t try that at home without adult supervision.
So don’t give this crew too much credit. Don’t assume they’re even capable of world domination as some of their critics allege. They ain’t smart enough. Take a look at the new book The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush just out by David Frum, the speechwriter who helped pen the term "Axis of Evil." Writing of his inside view of the administration, he says, "One seldom heard an unexpected thought in the Bush White House or met someone who possessed unusual knowledge . . . conspicuous intelligence seemed actively unwelcome in the Bush White House."
Perhaps I’m too harsh in blaming the American people for their passivity. It’s not like they’re being offered much choice of leadership. The Democrats still cling to their Herbert Hooverian worship of balanced budgets and are proposing a meek and mostly benign alternative "stimulus" program. The Democrats want to give you a one-time $300 tax rebate, about 75 cents a day, and hardly on the scale of what CSX got back from the Treasury. But, what the hell, you’re just a citizen — not a corporation.
Settle down for two or three months of mostly empty debate over the Bush economic plan. In the end, most if not all of it will be approved by Congress. It will do nothing to help all those car-show lookie-loos buy the machine of their dreams. But if you already own one of those Bentleys or Maseratis, these sure are sweet times.