FARRAKHAN: By all but the most skeptical accounts, the Million Man March was a stunning success for Louis Farrakhan. There is a debate whether the numbers in attendance were as low as 400,000 (Park Police) or 1,200,000 (City Hall), but it is clear from network coverage that practically the entire black community gathered around TV sets throughout the nation to experience the event. The bottom line is that Farrakhan got the attention of the white community in a way that mollified suspicions about his motives. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was ferocious on the weekend in denouncing the march, moderated his views after observing Farrakhan's outreach to the Jewish community and the peaceful, reflective tone of the marchers. On Larry King last night, Gingrich left open the possibility that Farrakhan "might change for the better." Hugh Price, president of the Urban League, which would not endorse the march, also swung around to credit Farrakhan for both his message and his delivery of it. As I noted in my Monday essay on the march, this presents an opportunity for reconciliation between blacks and Jews that must precede a resolution of the wider racial divide. As far as black America is now concerned, Farrakhan's persistence in seeking dialogue with the Jewish community now deserves more than the chilling rebuff it got prior to the march. There is positive political motion here, which will lead not only to a much bigger turnout at the polls in 1996 by black and white Americans than we have seen in many years, but a surprising fraction of the black vote going Republican.
BANDWAGON EFFECT: The moment the Beltway politicians realized the Million Man March would be a roaring success, they covered their shorts and jumped aboard the bandwagon. The several hundred thousand men who had just taken a Farrakhan pledge to kick the government habit were not gone from Washington a day before liberal politicos, black and white, were interpreting the march to mean exactly the opposite. Rep., Charles Rangel [D-NY] had said for weeks that he would not attend the march but showed up at the last minute to help celebrate the self-help message – by which he means an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and an increase in federal funding for education. To Rep. Kweisi Mfume [D-MD], the multitude of black men had assembled to denounce the GOP Contract with America. Six bipartisan, bi-racial congresspersons, including Rangel, all of whom had opposed the march to begin with, have petitioned the President to name a government commission to study the race problem. The commission would of course be staffed with several dozen beltway, lawyers, with a handsome travel budget permitting study of race relations even in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. We guess it would report in two years, just after the 1996 election, with recommendations for an increase of the EITC and federal funding for education. Will the propose establishment of a new cabinet level Department of Race? Let's wait and see.
POWELL: Gen. Colin Powell made his fist serious political mistake Sunday when he caved in to demands by the white folks that he denounce Farrakhan. This won him a round of boos from the Million Man March and huzzahs last night on Larry King Live from two white guys: Bill Kristol and Ed Rollins. Kristol, editor of The Beltway Standard, predicts Powell will win the nomination and the White House as long as he signs the White Agenda. Ed Rollins is the pathological blabbermouth who boasted of bribing the black ministry of New Jersey in the 1993 Gubernatorial race. This earned him a lifetime membership in the African-American Hall of Same. Ed also predicted Powell would win the White House now that he's shaped up. Powell may have touched the Third Rail. It doesn't take much, as Ross Perot discovered in 1992 when Rollins, then his campaign manager, publicly dumped on Jesse Jackson.
SENATE FINANCE: The tax package coming out of Senate Finance was about as bad as could be, given the expectations. We're told Chairman Bill Roth was virtually alone in arguing for indexation of capital gains, which was killed so the panel could divvy up the $20 billion it allegedly costs over seven years on port barrel tax expenditures. The two presidential candidates on the committee, Bob Dole and Phil Gramm, did not help a bit, choosing to focus their clout on increasing the estate tax exemption for farmers – not the worst way to use $20 billion, but nearly as productive as indexing capgains. The same goes for the expansion of IRAs. The retroactivity feature was also dropped as the sharp pencils went to work, with October 13 now cited instead of January 1 as the effective date for capgains. October 13 is of course much better than January 1, 1996, in that it allows capgains unlocking before year's end. Monday's Wall Street Journal editorial was on the mark in tagging this "Rosty's Last Tax Bill," in the sense that is pure Beltway-as-Usual policymaking. Instead of facing the "fairness issue" head-on, the committee report stresses how much of the $245 billion would go to unrich people. We're told Senator Dole was especially concerned that the package not seem to overly benefit the rich.
TAX PROSPECTS: The only member of the Senate who has been relating the tax cuts to economic growth, instead of playing the fairness game, has been Connie Mack of Florida, chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. When we are told that is highly unlikely that Mack will attempt to amend the Finance Committee bill on the Senate floor to index capital gains, because chances of winning are nil, we must assume it's all over on the Senate side. House Speaker Gingrich and Majority Leader Dick Armey continue to state publicly that they will fight in a House-Senate conference for indexation. In a speech Monday night, Gingrich connected up the economic welfare of the black community with the issue of capital gains. Otherwise, the case is not being made. We are afraid the House conferees will be caught in the same revenue squeeze that frustrated the Senate, which is what Republicans get for playing by Democratic rules of static analysis.