Jewish World Review July 7, 2003 / 7 Tamuz, 5763

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Consumer Reports

The ‘Billing’ of America | Bill Clinton and I have a few things in common. He is making a lot of money these days mouthing off, and so am I. He came from rather humble beginnings, and I was raised in a working-class environment as well. We are both in the top income bracket, but here is where we diverge. Mr. Clinton loves paying taxes. I don't.

Speaking before the Rainbow/Push coalition, Clinton criticized the Bush tax cut: "We are going to put half a million (children) out on the street so I can get my $80,000 tax cut. I must be the only person in America that every time I pay the maximum tax rates, every time I sign that tax form, I smile. I thank Heaven I live in a country that gave me a chance to make the money I do."

Not only does Mr. Clinton like paying taxes, but as chief executive he loved raising them. According to the Tax Foundation, the tax burden on working Americans under his administration was the highest since World War II. So it is fair to say that Bill Clinton is a taxing kind of guy.

Now, I don't want to put any child "out on the street." Especially since the streets in New York where I live are often full of enormous potholes that apparently the state cannot fix. That is simply unacceptable, and I will say this quite clearly: If we are going to put the kids out on the street, we must pave those streets. What are we here, barbarians?

Right now, I pay around 60 cents of every dollar I make in taxes. By giving money to charity I can get that down a bit, but my tax bills are enormous. And it's likely yours are, too. Even if you are not making big bucks, the government is picking your pocket daily with tolls, gas taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, death taxes and surcharges on most communications equipment.

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When you die, Bill Clinton will drive a U-haul to your house and take up to 60 percent of your stuff. That's called the estate tax. And Bill wants a piece of any interest you earn, any dividend you receive and any investment money you make. He is having a great time paying all he owes, and he wants you to have a grand time as well.

I would not begrudge these punishing tax rates that Clinton embraces if the money were used wisely. But that is not the case. According to the General Accounting Office, the Pentagon cannot account for a trillion dollars in funding. That's trillion with a "T." And how about that "Big Dig" highway project in Boston that went from $3 billion to $16 billion under Bill Clinton's watch. Federal dollars funded most of that cost overrun. I hope Bill C. enjoys the Ted Williams Tunnel.

And then there are the kids who, when they are not in the streets, are in school. In Washington, D.C., Bill C.'s administration forked over $10,000 dollar per pupil for readin', writin' and 'rithmetic in the District's public schools. Guess what? The District's Catholic Schools, spending less than half that amount per pupil, had higher test scores on average. And here's the kicker: According to D.C. Auditor Deborah Nichols, District school officials cannot account for $1.6 million in credit-card charges. Maybe the Pentagon should investigate.

The truth is that the government is running a shell game on us. They allocate tax money but don't watch how it's spent. They know that there's an inexhaustible supply of tax dollars coming from rich guys like Bill C. and me. So who cares about spending efficiency, let the good times roll. Bill Clinton is having the time of his life paying his taxes, and the government is having a blast spending that money. What a fun country this is.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.

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© 2003 Creators Syndicate