Tuesday's must-reads

By Geraldine Sealey
Published March 9, 2004 3:27PM (EST)

CBO: Tax cuts won't help economy
President Bush is out on the campaign trail touting his tax cut plans and saying they'll benefit the economy and create jobs. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office disagrees, as reported here.

The AP reports: "In its annual report on the president's budget, the agency that provides fiscal analysis for lawmakers said Bush's proposals could either increase or reduce economic output through 2009, and improve it in the following five years. 'However, the differences are likely to be small, affecting output by less than one-half of one percentage point on average,' the study said. Congress' Republican leaders have already decided to ignore Bush's proposal for permanent tax cuts this year because it would boost record federal deficits even higher."

Here's the actual CBO report.

Kerry 52 percent, Bush 44 percent
USA Today shows that John Kerry leads the president by 8 percentage points in a new poll, largely because people say Kerry would handle domestic issues better. And the pollsters made their calls from Friday to Sunday, after Bush-Cheney '04 started channeling its millions into an ad campaign meant to shore up the president's image that ended up mired in controversy over the use of images from 9/11. Maybe there are some things money can't buy.

From the USA Today: "The Massachusetts senator's 8-point lead with likely voters in the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll comes after he won nine of 10 crucial primaries and caucuses last Tuesday. Bush countered with a $10.5 million ad campaign and three speeches criticizing Kerry's Senate record and charging that the country would be less safe under his leadership. Bush rates higher in the poll on foreign affairs and national security, but Kerry tops him on the economy, health care, education and Social Security. Two-thirds of those polled say the economy will be more important than the war on terrorism when they vote."

And Bush should hope those trips to NASCAR and the rodeo help him with the menfolk. The poll shows that men, usually a Republican strength, split 47 percent for Kerry, 46 percent for Bush. Kerry has his party's typical lead with women, 53 percent to 43 percent.

On the defensive
About those poll numbers, President Bush seems to know he's in trouble, and is trying not to repeat the mistakes of his father. Perhaps that's why, as the Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes, President Bush's mention of "Senator Kerry" -- he's attacking him by name -- "is by far the earliest time an incumbent president has invoked the name of his opponent, even considering the rapid conclusion of the Democratic primary race. In 1992, a search of presidential records shows, Bush's father apparently waited until Aug. 17 before making an unprompted mention of Bill Clinton. In 1996, Bill Clinton made his first unbidden criticism of opponent Bob Dole on July 2. And in 1984, incumbent Ronald Reagan waited all the way until Oct. 12, just weeks before the election, before identifying Walter Mondale, saying: 'My opponent, Mr. Mondale, offers a future of pessimism, fear and limits, compared to ours of hope, confidence and growth.'"

"This is not a mere matter of calendar trivia. It is a sign that Bush has been put on the defensive and forced to join the political fray, long before he wanted to do," Milbank writes.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

MORE FROM Geraldine Sealey

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room