FEEL THE STIMULUS
After word began leaking out about a White House “dynamic scoring” analysis of the Bush economic stimulus plan, Democrats on Capitol Hill ordered up their own dynamic scoring report.
Late last week, according to White House staffers, there was internal debate about releasing a “dynamic scoring” report of the Bush stimulus package that showed a lower increase in tax revenue and economic growth than the White House had expected.
“The numbers were still good, better than anything static scoring would have indicated,” says a White House congressional liaison staffer. “But they weren’t on the high end of results. We saw an increased revenue stream, but not a huge jump.”
For decades Republicans have insisted on the use of dynamic scoring to project the economic effects of such measures as tax cuts, budget cuts, or tax increases. For example, dynamic scoring of a tax cut would indicate a greater return to government coffers because money in the pocket of a consumer would be spent, creating tax revenue, income to a business, which is taxed. On the opposite end, a tax increase would similarly dampen economic growth.
Dynamic scoring is not the primary means by which the government scores tax or revenue plans, although Republicans in the House have insisted that the Congressional Budget Office score tax plans with both static and dynamic scoring approaches.
When word began leaking out about the less than expected dynamic scoring for the Bush plan, Democrats on Capitol Hill made calls to friendly ears inside CBO, asking for another round of scoring that might give them ammunition against the Bush plan. According to one Democratic House leadership staffer, Rep. Henry Waxman considered ordering the White House to turn the dynamic scoring report over to Congress and to make it public: “Every little thing Waxman just jumps on it. He’s just rabid right now that nothing is sticking to the Bush people.”
Democrats won’t like the dynamic scoring results, whatever they may be, says the White House staffer. “The numbers are still better than anything the Democrats would want. It’s not going to give them anything to tout. It’s like the Lincoln photo op. The more they talk about it, the worse off they will be.”
Iowa was the center of the political universe over the weekend, as seven of the nine Democratic presidential aspirants gathered there for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees-sponsored forum. Less covered or publicized was the fundraiser by AFSCME’s political action committee, PEOPLE– “Public Employees Organizing to Promote Legislative Equality” — where the Democrats could get “up close and personal” with potential donors.
Former Vermont Gov. Howie Dean, Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt, Sen. Bob Graham, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Amb. Carol Moseley Braun, and the Rev. Al Sharpton all took part in person. Sen. Joe Lieberman passed due to religious observance of the Sabbath, but sent a video tape of himself. Sen. John Kerry was making a commencement address (no, not at the Sorbonne) and was beamed in via satellite.
While the debate, attended by fewer than 1,000 AFSCME members from around the country, gave the liberal audience plenty of red meat to chew on, the real politicking after the event gives an indication of who is taking Iowa seriously. Most of the candidates jetted off to other political commitments; only Gephardt and Edwards hung around to make a real mark.
Almost all the Democratic campaigns are ceding Iowa to Gephardt, who won the caucus last time he ran for president. But Edwards has been putting down roots here, earlier than any other campaign that is up and running today. Both men were going to spend the weekend in Iowa holding in-home meetings with voters. Gephardt planned on holding events in at least five different towns on Sunday.
“We’ve had an operation here longer than Kerry or Lieberman, even Gephardt,” says an Edwards campaign staffer. “We may not win Iowa, but we’ll finish in the top three, and that’s all that matters. We are taking this state seriously.”