Two Terrible Ideas

The weekend headlines bring no respite from the bad news. Two of the absolute worst suggestions are now in the public domain, the first courtesy of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats and the second from our old friend John Edwards.

Dumb Idea #1. Senate Democrats are proposing that an independent counsel (i.e., special prosecutor) be appointed to investigate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys back in December. As the song goes, “When will they ever learn?” The institution of the independent counsel lacks accountability to anyone and any perspective on how its task relates to developments in the rest of the government, not to mention the world. Past IC investigations have dragged on for years, at astronomical expense, to very little point. The Scooter Libby prosecution is the latest example, but there are many other similar cases from the Carter through the Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton years. That’s why the IC statute was allowed to lapse back in the 1990s and its reauthorization has never seriously been discussed. It’s hard to see this latest call for an IC as anything more than a “gotcha” tactic in the organized campaign to sack the AG.

Dumb Idea #2. John Edwards is first out of the box with his tax increase plan. Any time a national Democrat proposes a tax plan, you can bet it’s a tax increase. Edwards doesn’t disappoint. He proposes raising the rate on invested capital — i.e., capital gain — from 15 percent to 28 percent. This flies in the face of the last 30 years of bipartisan legislating that gradually brought down the rate on capital gains from 49 percent to the current 15 percent. Even liberals acknowledge the key role that low marginal rates on invested capital plays for economic growth and job creation. But the old trial lawyer has never bothered to understand wealth creation. Income redistribution (from people he doesn’t like to people he wants to vote for him) is his “economic plan.”

Maybe we can appoint an independent counsel to investigate Edwards’s economic malpractice.