Bush Calls His Flip on Taxes Lincolnesque
President Bush said today he knew he would be skewered for flip-flopping on tax increases but declared, in a comparison to Abraham Lincoln, “I’m thinking anew” for the good of the country.
Bush said he had changed course on the politically explosive issue to break a deadlock in deficit-reduction talks with the Democratic-controlled Congress.
“Look, I knew I’d catch some flak on this decision,” said Bush, who has been harshly criticized by many Republicans for abandoning the “read-my-lips, no-new-taxes” slogan that helped him win the presidency.
“I’ve got to do what I think is right and then I’ll ask the people for support,” Bush said.
Justifying his change, the President said the economy is slower and the deficit worse than “any of us visualized” when he made his pledge two years ago.
However, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in March, 1988, that the fiscal 1991 deficit would be $159 billion--very close to what the Administration now says is the case.
Bush made his comments at a news conference before departing for a long holiday weekend at Kennebunkport, Me., and trips to London and Houston for two summit meetings with Western allies.
Questions about his reversal on taxes dominated Bush’s news conference, but he also emphasized his opposition to giving cash aid to Moscow to bail out the sickly Soviet economy.
“It is hard for the American people to say, ‘Why put X billions of dollars of money into the Soviet economy when it’s not reformed, when they’re spending 18% of their gross national product on (the) military and when they’re spending an estimated $5 billion in Cuba,”’ Bush said.
“Some of our allies might not be as concerned about that last point as we are,” Bush added.
He also said he was reviewing a letter from Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir proposing severe restrictions on which Palestinians Jerusalem would negotiate with.
“I’m concerned about a deadlock in the peace process,” he said.