George Voinovich pinches a penny until Abe Lincoln screams for mercy. When he puts George Washington in his wallet, it's a life sentence without parole. He won't turn a greenback loose until it's as ripe as a black banana.
Unless he's spending your money.
Sen. Voinovich is the former mayor who saved Cleveland from bankruptcy and the ex-governor who rescued Ohio from deficits. But while he swings a sharp budget sword, he rides a white horse named Tax Hike.
While he was governor, he tried and failed to raise the income tax and pass a pop tax. And although he put the Abe Lincoln pinch on budgets for higher education, state spending rose twice as fast as inflation.
Voinovich is like a handyman who has figured out just the right carburetor adjustments to keep an old lawnmower running. Twist the spending screw a leeettle bit leaner, pour more taxes into the top and pull the starter rope. If it tears up the business garden and chokes taxpayers in a cloud of oily smoke, too bad - it's running great.
His carburetor settings for the federal riding mower call for a full tank of our money. He says tax cuts can't be turned up any higher than $350 billion or the juggernaut might start coughing and missing - and won't run long enough to rebuild Iraq, pay for the war and climb out of an economic dip.
That sounds sensible.
But the president wants a minimum tax cut of $550 billion. The $200 billion difference is hardly enough to sharpen the blade on the federal John Deere that mulches our take-home pay right up to our kneecaps.
What's the big deal?
Stiffing the president
President Bush came to Ohio on Thursday to talk Voinovich into turning the tax-cut screw a little higher. Voinovich is a key vote blocking Bush's economic recovery plan.
Bush could have told Voinovich that nearly 4 million taxpayers in Ohio benefit from tax cuts, and nearly 1 million businesses will get cuts to invest in raises, jobs and new equipment.
Add in marriage penalty relief and an increase in the child deduction from $600 to $1,000, and White House figures show tax cuts for up to 12 million Ohio residents - nearly everyone who pays taxes.
And all those people can save, invest or spend their money, giving Ohio and the nation a jolt of economic caffeine.
But Bush couldn't say any of that. Voinovich met him for only a 15-second "Howareya" on the runway. He said he was too busy. In Dayton.
But he's still Bush's buddy, he insisted. Sure. And "Baghdad Bob" is the most trusted man in Iraq.
Congressman John Boehner says the war will pay for itself when Iraq's oil pushes gas prices down. "The economy needs help and it needs it now," he said. "The surest way to avoid deficits is to have a healthy economy.
"But the Voinovich mantra is to make government work," Boehner said. "Save your breath."
Voinovich won't listen to his party or his president. But there are 12 million Ohio taxpayers who might have something to say.
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Voinovich won't give on Bush tax cuts
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