[FOUNTAIN]Election Season and Tax Cuts

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[FOUNTAIN]Election Season and Tax Cuts

Catherine the Great, a Russian empress, was loved by the socially marginalized in the 18th century as a benevolent despot.

But even the empress sought ways to avoid Russian farmers' ceaseless petitions for tax cuts. One day the empress heard that Peter I, a Russian czar of the 17th century, had gotten angry and told farmers "How annoying. Take my testicles instead," when he was put in the same situation. The next day, she called in farmers' representatives and complained that she did not even have "those things."

In any kingdom, there have been periods in which taxes were extorted from subjects. Only after democracy progressed in the 20th century did political leaders start to revise or sometimes cut tax rates for better administration.

But candidates for leadership who advocated tax policies to strengthen their nations were often compelled to pledge tax cuts to win elections.

Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate in the 1964 U.S. elections, once lamented that all politicians vowed their commitment to tax cuts during campaigns, but also voted for expensive projects that made tax cuts impossible.

In 1994, the opposition Republican party took control of the Congress in off-year elections, but was criticized for promising $216 billion in tax cuts over five years.

The Reagan administration also took heavy flak for its tax cut policies in the 1980s, and President Bush advocated more tax cuts, including a decrease in the inheritance tax rate.

Korean political parties are also engaged in tax-cutting policy competition. They have good justification: The world economy is slowing down in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Special consumption taxes were swiftly reduced, and income taxes will soon fall. But when it comes to cutting corporate taxes by 2 percent, the opposition and the ruling parties are colliding head-on.

This year, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan and other Asian countries cut taxes in reaction to their economic difficulties.

No taxpayers would find tax cuts unwelcome. Although debates over tax cuts are just a part of political strategies before the presidential election next year, we hope the debates will present us with reliable blueprints on how our life will change as a result of the tax cuts.

The general public will judge the parties based on those blueprints.

The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Choi Chul-joo

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