It was former senator Rusell Long who contained the un-official theme song Capitol Hill lobbyist: "Don't tax you, don't tax me--tax the fellow behind that tree." Last week the lobbyist were moving their lips as fast as they could to endorse that sentiment. No sooner had President Bush backed away from his read my-lips pledge than details of new tax proposals began leaking out. And--surprise, surprise--lobbyist for everything from brewers to stockbrokers began scrambling to protect their flanks.
The beer industry has budgeted cool $1 million to fight a possible doubling of the $9-a-barrel federal-excise tax. The campaign includes petitions, briefing books for the media and ads in 65 hometown newspapers of key congressmen. The ads which claim that people pay more taxes on beer than jewelry, list a toll-free number that produces a personalized letter ti the caller's lawmaker.
Wall Street reacted just as soberly to talk of a .5 percent tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other securities. Edward I.O'Brien, president of the Securities Industry Association, argued the tax would discourage savings and hurt U.S. competitiveness. Some claimed stocks would suffer, finding support for that argument when the Dow average fell more than 32 points the day, the market rebounded 26 points).
The hottest new proposal was a broad-based tax on sources of energy --gasoline, oil, natural gas and nuclear oil, natural gas and nuclear power. In all, it would raise about 20 billion. Everybody seemed to agree that was a good idea--except, of course, the transportation lobby.