The 95th Congress has been a disaster for American liberalism. A partial listing of progressive measures that failed to survive the Capitol Hill obstacle course would include any type of welfare reform, tax reform, labor reform, or national health insurance; national no-fault auto insurance; a bill establishing a consumer protection agency; hospital cost containment; and the most important aspects of the Administration’s much heralded urban program. As finally enacted, the Humphrey-Hawkins full-employment bill is an
empty gesture that mocks the hopes of those whom social scientists refer to as the “structurally un- employed.”
The most significant new legislation is indicative of the present conservative mood in Congress. The income tax reduction is regressive and unjust. The tax rate on capital gains and the corporate income tax were lowered, disproportionately benefiting the wealthy. Different versions of a college tuition tax credit, long sought by congressional spokesmen for the upper middle class, were finally passed by both Houses, though neither version became law due to a credible and praiseworthy veto threat by the President. And a record defense budget of $116 billion sailed through Congress with minimum scrutiny.
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