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E-Letter To Business Week Online and Richard S. Dunham Re: "Tax Cuts: Bush's Bridge to Minority Votes?"


Your article "Tax Cuts: Bush's Bridge to Minority Votes?" though short in length, is one of the best articles that I have read in this week of media "coverage" of the Republican Convention in Philadelphia. Your article is very ambitious but does in fact touch on an important aspect of a potential political realignment inside of the Black Electorate - the beginning stages of which may already be underway.

One of the reasons that I think your piece is so good is because it reveals the lack of attention that the Black Political Establishment has paid to the subject of how the Black Electorate really feels about tax cuts. You refer to tax cuts as Bush's "secret weapon" and I think that is a good way to view the subject. However, the issue of tax cuts isn't a secret to professional Democrats who fear Bush's penetration into the Black vote. Rather, the issue is a secret kept from the Black Electorate by the Democratic Party Establishment and by the vast majority of Black leaders who pledge allegiance to the Party.

As poll data reveals, Blacks are very much in favor of targeted tax cuts. But Blacks aren't just interested in the targeted tax cuts of the Clinton-Gore variety, as your piece implies but they are also interested in the lowering of marginal tax rates across the board, the elimination of taxes on capital, and the reduction or elimination of the payroll tax which is the most regressive of all taxes on Blacks in this country. I think you should know that out of all groups in this country, polls indicate that Blacks, more than any other group, favor the elimination or reduction of the payroll tax. Surely, you would agree this is no targeted tax cut of the Clinton-Gore variety.

Unfortunately for Black America, these are all issues that are championed by Republicans and Libertarians and not by the party to whom they give almost 90% of their vote. And the Democratic Party has "hired" Black political leaders to demonize any tax cuts as only for "rich white males". At the same time many of these same Black leaders are wealthy - relative to most Blacks, invest in the stock market and unlike most of the Black electorate, have the ability to hire accountants, investment bankers and estate planners to structure their investments in such way that they pay as little tax as possible.

Interestingly, the candidate most likely to siphon Black votes away from Al Gore - Ralph Nader - is a heavy investor in the stock market, and has made quite a bit of money from his investment in the past year, at the very same time he rails against corporate America. Again, wealth-creation, capital accumulation and the elimination of taxes on that wealth and capital, are a secret only to the Black Electorate.

Poor Blacks, middle-class Blacks and wealthy Blacks alike, all want their tax burdens reduced but are discouraged from translating that desire into a political reality. If he so desires, Gov. Bush could provide such a political vehicle, but he must be skillful in how he does it. You are correct to entertain the possibility that Gov. Bush could make some headway with the Black vote if he were to aggressively market tax cuts to Black audiences - poor, middle-class and the wealthy.

But it would be so much better if Black leadership could rise above its attachment to the Democratic Party and raise the issue all on its own. If that were to happen, we may see both parties use the issue as a way to compete for the Black vote, a vote which is still ignored and taken for granted - tax cuts or not.

Sincerely,


Cedric Muhammad

Thursday, August 3, 2000

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