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Jewish World Review Jan. 13, 2003 / 10 Shevat, 5763

Dick Morris

Dick Morris
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Consumer Reports


The new swing voter


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The economic calculus behind President Bush's repeal of the tax on stock dividends may or may not be sound, but there is no faulting its political math. Investors, more male than female and older rather than younger, are the swing vote of the '00s, just as soccer Moms were the keys to the politics of the '90s.

Thirty-six million Americans families earning $50,000 to $100,000 own stock - two thirds of them directly through stock purchases, mutual funds or 401(k)s. It is their withdrawal from the stock market that has caused its collapse.

They may not be investing, but they sure are voting and they likely comprise a quarter to a third of all voters in presidential elections. By giving them a tax break, Bush stimulates his electoral prospects.

Democrats' complaint - that the tax cut is aimed at the most wealthy - won't fly. Remember that the top 10 percent of incomes pay 70 percent of the income taxes and cast about 25 percent of the vote.

The more serious problem for Bush - and opportunity for the Democrats - will come later in the year, when the Securities and Exchange Commission gets its act together and begins to ponder restitution for the enormous market losses of these men and women have lost thanks to misdoings by the likes of Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney, Enron and WorldCom.

Brokerage firms are setting aside only a tiny portion of investors' losses. (Citibank has reserved $1.5 billion after almost $1 trillion was lost.) These swing voters will not be amused at compensation of pennies on the dollar.

Bush is courting these investors by offering tax breaks. Will Democrats go after them by promoting restitution?

The problem: Democrats have to drop their stupid class-warfare rhetoric. With 74 million Americans owning stock in one form or another, anything which helps them can't be derided as a sop to the rich. (The rest of the Bush tax package - fast forwarding of other tax cuts and aid to unemployed workers - will be popular as well.)

Will Bush get ahead of the Democrats in offering compensation to those who have had their wallets emptied by Wall Street's fraudulently optimistic earnings estimates?

Who is going to help these people get their money back? The answer could indicate who will win their love and loyalty in elections to come.

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JWR contributor Dick Morris is the author of, among others, "Power Plays: Top 20 Winning and Losing Strategies of History's Great Political Leaders" Comment by clicking here.

Up

01/10/03: Political e-mailing comes of age
01/07/03: In Dem race: Home field no advantage
12/31/02: Hey, Hillary: Want to appear like a stateswomyn? Stay silent
12/19/02: Kerry in the lead
12/19/02: Lieberman the frontrunner
12/17/02: In defense of Lott
12/02/02: An issue for Bush: Drugs
11/27/02: Women gone wobbly?
11/25/02: The U.N. over a barrel
11/15/02: Gore's suicide
11/15/02 One-party control is an illusion
11/13/02 The House of Extremes
11/08/02 I have egg on my face
11/01/02 Is Bush losing control over events?
10/25/02What is causing Bush's free fall?
10/25/02: Anybody sense a trend?
10/23/02: A deadline for Iraq
10/18/02: Only sure bet of 2002 elections is voter angst
10/16/02: Endangered incumbents
10/11/02: Why multilateralism doesn't work
10/09/02: Hey, Dems: Believe NYTimes polling at your own risk
10/03/02: Dem suicide: Let's count the ways
09/30/02: The Dems just can't stop themselves
09/26/02: The perils of polling
09/19/02: W. boxed in the U.N.
09/19/02: Welfare reform: Keep on keeping on
09/12/02: Are Dems insane on Iraq?
09/09/02: Twin shadows of Election '02
09/05/02: GOP should triangulate
08/28/02: Trust the military
08/22/02: It's not the economy, stupid
08/09/02: As America unites, Gore goes divisive
08/01/02: Bush must focus on big picture
07/23/02: Election 2002: Advantage Dems
07/19/02: Rudy for SEC tough cop
07/17/02: The investor strike
07/15/02: Door open for drug testing students --- go for it, GOP!
07/12/02: Dubya looking out for No. 1?
07/03/02: The DNA war for Bush's soul
06/21/02: Why are conservatives winning?
06/19/02: Learning to love the feds
06/14/02: Hey, journalists and Dems: Dubya is doing just fine
06/12/02: It's terrorism, stupid!
06/10/02: Sanctions are a potent weapon
06/04/02: Al Qaeda's more dangerous new front
05/31/02: Why '04 looks tough for liberal Dems
05/24/02: Democratic self-destruction
05/22/02: The Clinton failures
05/15/02: Pataki positioned to win
05/08/02: A wakeup-call for American Jewry
05/03/02: Give Bush back his focus
05/01/02: Immigration fault li(n)es
04/25/02: It's the war, stupid
04/17/02: Bush goes small bore
04/12/02: Bush must be a gentle partisan
04/10/02: In defense of polling
04/08/02: Focus on Iraq, not the Palestinians
04/01/02: Only Internet will bring real campaign finance reform
03/27/02: Where W's drawn a line in the sand
03/22/02: Enron scandal will not trigger a wave of economic populism
03/20/02: Term-limited --- by war
03/15/02: Europe doesn't have a clue
03/11/02: Bush popularity = GOP win?
03/01/02: Will America be forced to chase its tail in its war on terrorism?
02/27/02: The Arafat/Saddam equilibrium must be destroyed
02/21/02: Campaign finance reform won't hurt GOPers
02/13/02: Dodd scurries for cover
02/11/02: U.S. 'unilateralism'? The Europeans don't have a case
02/06/02: WAR: What women want
02/01/02: They all talk in the end
01/30/01: The odd couple: Chris Dodd and Arthur Andersen
01/22/01: His father's son? Bush better get an 'Act II' fast!
01/18/01: Dubya & the 'vision thing'
01/14/01: The Rumsfeld Doctrine 01/03/01: A President Gore would have been a disaster
01/03/02: Clinton's priority: Political correctness over fighting terror
12/27/01: Terror network grew out of Clinton's inaction, despite warnings
12/24/01: Call 'em back, George
12/18/01: What Bush did right
12/13/01: Libs worry too much
12/11/01: "Open Sesame": Feinstein's proposed bill allows 100,000 non-immigrant students from anti-American countries to our shores
12/07/01: The non-partisan president
12/05/01: Both parties are phony on stimulus debate
11/29/01: When terrorists can enter legally, it's time to change the laws
11/21/01: Go for the jugular!
11/16/01: You are all incumbents
11/14/01: Clinton's failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack led directly to 9-11 disaster
11/12/01: To the generals: Don't worry about losing support
11/08/01: The death of the white liberal
11/07/01: Our leaders are being transformed in a way unprecedented in post-World War II history

© 2002, Dick Morris