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GOP Contract Offers No Benefits for Many

While answering a call of nature that could no longer be denied, I had the opportunity to peruse the April 4th edition of The Tech. Flipping rapidly through its pages, I happened upon Ricardo Egozcue's guest column, "Contract with America Far from Fascist".

The appearance of such a column was not too surprising; with the highly touted "100 Days" coming to a close I correctly predicted the current conservative media blitzkrieg - with Republicans gushing over their so-called "successes" in newspapers and on television. Nonetheless, until reading Egozcue's column, I still held in my heart the faint hope that MIT's humble newspaper would be overlooked during the Republican media assault.

As I pondered over my reply to Egozcue's lengthy column, I became a bit confused. Where do I begin? Should I mention the fact that no where in the Contract does it address any of the myriad forms of discrimination that still exist - no, thrive and flourish - in this great country of ours? That's simply stating the obvious; anyone who has successfully completed a "Hooked on Phonics" course (or its equivalent) and who pays attention to politics knows that Republicans have never even made a pretense of being concerned with minority issues.

How about the fact that Republican policies give the most benefit to those who are already wealthy? No, too obvious again - anyone who remembers the 1980s knows that to be true. Wait, I think I have something: Maybe I can write a letter debunking the "new math" that Republicans are now using when discussing taxes and the deficit.

In his column Egozcue heaps praise on the Republican tax cuts, particularly the $500 per child tax credit, which he says "benefits everyone who has a child, regardless of income." Indeed, when viewed alone, this does appear to be a benefit. But let us be like good engineers and take a look at the big picture.

Suppose that a family has a child who recently graduated as high school valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA, and was accepted into MIT, or almost any other four - year college. Well, the $500 could be used for college expenses, right? It sure could. But wait a minute. Republicans plan to eliminate federally subsidized loans and eliminate or reduce most federal grants. Does anyone out there receive a Stafford Loan or Pell Grant? Is the value of the subsidy greater than $500? Odds are that it is.

So guess how much your family nets in this exchange? Nothing, if you're lucky; a deficit if you're not.

Is Lyndon B. Johnson really to blame for the deficit? Let's review the facts: When Jimmy Carter left office in 1981, the nation had a debt of $900 billion. Ronald Reagan then took office, and in the eight years that followed, the deficit ballooned to $3 trillion. Was this huge increase caused by the ghost of Lyndon Johnson, or by Reagan's $300 billion per year military budget? After all, Reagan cut "social spending" drastically, and the national debt increased. Go figure.

Meanwhile, most of the Republicans who championed Reagan's fiscal insanity have now become balanced-budget hawks. But here again, the GOP faces a numbers problem: if taxes are lowered federal revenue drops, and in order to decrease the deficit, the budget must be cut even further - and like it or not, social programs do not make up as much of the budget as Republicans would like you to think.

Finally, I must admit that I have learned something from the first 100 days - I've learned that the next two years promise to be political, social and financial hell for minorities, women and the working middle-class.

Marlo V. Kemp '96