GOP probes Clinton's Rich pardon

Bush begins his second week pushing faith-based social services as his party sees success for his tax plan.

Published January 29, 2001 11:12AM (EST)

President Bush has been promising a forward-looking administration, but some of his Republican colleagues want to spend a little time looking back at Bill Clinton.

The Bush team is reportedly exploring ways to reverse the former president's 11th hour pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who was convicted of cheating the federal government out of $48 million in taxes in 1983. Clinton's critics have charged that the Rich pardon had little to do with mercy and much to do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that Rich's ex-wife has forked over to Clinton and other Democrats over the past several years.

The pardon has given the congressional investigating squad one last shot at its favorite target, with Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., threatening to let loose the hounds once more to check for dirty doings in the Rich case. Rich's lawyer says that he welcomes the scrutiny, and that his client is currently planning his return to the United States.

Rich's creative tax plan may yet keep him in hot water, but the Bush tax cut proposal is headed for smooth sailing. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says that the $1 trillion-plus cut should make its way out of Congress by July 4. In addition to the conditional endorsement it received from Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, the Bush tax cut has gotten unexpected support from moderate Democrats like Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga.

Another Bush priority is expected to be blessed with bipartisan support. On Monday, the president is to announce the opening of a White House office dedicated to distributing billions of tax dollars to faith-based organizations that provide social services like day care, drug rehabilitation and after-school activities. Though critics complain that the initiative would blur the line between church and state, similar plans have enjoyed widespread political support in both houses of Congress.
-- Alicia Montgomery [6 a.m. PST, Jan. 29, 2001]

By Salon Staff

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