(Des Moines, IA) Iowa farmers used to rising early for breakfast got their pancakes and link sausage, along with a serving of political posturing Tuesday morning at the Iowa Farm Bureau convention in Des Moines.
Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, the front-runner for his party’s nomination, made his way through a room full of farmers and a throng of media to do the “shake and howdy” with potential supporters, many of whom accepted a “John Deere” green cap printed with the words “Bush Farm Team.”
Bush had the run of the room for half an hour, then another republican presidential contestant arrived.
“We wanted to show we could go into Indian Territory and not be afraid,” said Bob Haus, a senior consultant to magazine publisher/presidential candidate Steve Forbes.
As Forbes surveyed the scene, he saw the growing number of green-capped converts. The two candidates moved toward one another for what Haus called the “picture of the week” — a snapshot of the two shaking hands.
“See ya tomorrow,” Bush said to Forbes, referring to Thursday’s debate in New Hampshire which will feature all six GOP candidates.
“Good to see ya,” Forbes responded.
Forbes also had his own rejoinder to counter the sea of green hats.
“We’re telling the folks here today that you can wear the green, but we’ll let you keep the green,” Forbes joked to reporters, a reference to his plan which would junk the current tax code and establish a simple, 17 percent “flat tax” on income.
Bush touted his own, just-released-Tuesday-night tax plan during a luncheon speech in Des Moines. Bush estimates his combination of tax changes would account for a $483 Billion dollar reduction in taxes over five years.
Bush would reduce rates and increase the number of low-income Americans who pay no tax at all. In addition, he’d reduce the so-called “marriage penalty,” establish a $1000 per child tax credit for parents and do away with the inheritance tax.
“This tax cut will be an insurance policy against any potential economic slowdown,” Bush said during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.
Vice President Al Gore called Bush’s plan “too risky” because it would reduce the federal government’s ability to boost education and fix the Medicare and Social Security systems.
“Vice President Gore calls any tax cut risky,” Bush said. “What’s risky is to give Congress surplus money to spend. What’s risky is to have an Administration that is unwilling to pass money back to the taxpayers.”
Forbes called Bush’s plan mere “tinkering.”
“He leaves the IRS untouched. He phases in his small tax cuts over five to ten years. It doesn’t deal with the real problem. It’s a signal that it’s politics as usual. It’s a signal to Washington, they don’t have to worry, their gravy train is going to remain on track.