Here's a speech for Bush to make

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
February 9, 2003

Two weeks ago, I opined in this space that a federal tax cut, especially an elimination of the double taxation of corporate dividends, would be positive for the economy. (Some of you disagreed. Thanks for the emails.)

It is a shame president Bush isn't as plain spoken in his dealings with the economy as he is with terrorism.

The president ought to hold a press conference. And he ought to say something like this:

"My fellow Americans. Today I am going to ask Congress to consider a massive tax cut.'

'My critics are going to say most of the cuts are going to the rich. And they're right.'

'That's right. The top two thirds of all citizens are going to get 95 percent of the tax cut. The top third is going to get almost 75 percent of the tax cut. I want to eliminate the taxes on dividends. That won't be a big deal to most folks - at least not right away. But there will be a small number of people who will get a huge tax cut from that.'

'I'm not going to kid you about trying to fix some short-term economic problems with this tax cut. That's not what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to cut the unemployment rate a tenth of a percent and I'm not going to insult your intelligence by contriving some statistic that says the average person is going to get $1,083 from this tax cut. There are no average people. Your taxes may go down no more than four or five dollars a month.'

'I want to cut these taxes for one simple reason: it is the right thing to do.'

'Please don't believe to the rhetoric about this. We're not going to take money from anybody to give to someone else. We already do enough of that. If you keep an extra ten dollars and your neighbor keeps an extra $1,000, he didn't take any money from you. We're just going to let him keep more of what he earned in the first place.'

'I know you all expect your president to fix things when the economy is doing poorly. But fixing the economy is not like mowing the grass. When your grass gets a little too high, you get your mower and you go out and trim it. The economy's not like that at all. The economy is like a tree. No matter how hard I try, I can't grow a hundred-foot oak tree in four weeks, or even four years.'

'I want to plant a tree and help create an environment where millions of Americans can plant their own trees. And we can all nurture and care for the trees that were planted long before we got here. Like the tax cuts of 1964 and 1981, we're planting trees that will grow over the next several decades.'

'I'm not doing this to try and get votes. Think about that. My critics say this tax cut is just for the wealthy. You know what? Most wealthy people voted for me anyway. They're going to vote for me next time. They weren't going to vote for Al Gore and they're not going to vote for Joe Lieberman, Al Sharpton or whomever the democrats run. I don't have to suck up to those people to get their votes. I'd be better off politically giving a bunch of money to people who don't even pay taxes. But that doesn't fix anything.'

'I get one shot to make a huge difference in the future of this country. I love my dad. I think he's a great man. But he had one shot at making a difference and he blew it. I'm not going to do that.'

If George W. Bush gave that speech, he wouldn't lose or gain a single vote, but he would earn a lot of respect. And he just might plant a tree.

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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