T Nation

Kerry and the 87 Billion

A lot of hot air has been expelled about how Kerry “flip flopped” on the vote for funding the Iraq reconstruction and troop support.

Kerry voted for the bill, before he voted against it.

Kerry voted FOR the bill when it contained an ammendment that the 87 billion should be funded by rolling back the tax cuts on the top1 percent of American earners, back to pre-Bush levels.

After that ammendment was removed by Republicans, Kerry voted against the bill, as he says, as a protest vote. The vote wasn’t even close, so Kerry’s vote wasn’t going to change anything. Congressmen make “protest” votes all the time.

Is that flip-flopping? If so, then Republicans in Congress ALSO flip flopped!

Republicans voted AGAINST the bill, before they voted FOR it… flip floppers!

Republicans wanted this war in Iraq, but they don’t want to pay for it. This is the first time in history that we have had a tax cut during a time of war. Republicans put the costs of the war (150 billion so far) on your kids’ credit cards, by running up a huge deficit, while cutting taxes for the wealthy.

“i dont think any united state senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to --to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running. Thats irresponsible.” (cbs face the nation, 9/14/03)

“Here is the value that john edwards an i will put in place, I’m proud to say that john joined me in voting against that $87 billion when we knew that policy had to be changed.” kerry, remarks at “womens voices: a luncheon with jonh kerry” boston ma 7/12/04

gee lumpy it sounds like those taxes are really why he voted against the 87 billion. This is too easy.

Yes Lumpy , that is flip flopping.

This nation funded it’s first war back in the 1770’s with debt, as well as most every war since.

You are actually bitchin and moanin about $87 billion? That’s like 4% of the budget.

I think it was pretty shitty of the libs to try and slide tax increases by in a rider to a war funding bill.

Rainman, some people are pretty dead set against putting debt on the heads of the next generation…

You may not feel that way, but it is something a lot of people are concerned about. It’s a silly point to launch an attack on.

The flip flop claim is just more negative Bush administration advertising, unsubstantiated negative bullshit, and I hope it gets Bush exactly what he deserves for running that kind of campaign.

Vroom, aren’t you from canada? Why don’t you worry about your own debt?

“Vroom, aren’t you from canada? Why don’t you worry about your own debt?”

Sadly most Americans are absolutely clueless as to how potentially destructive the deficit could be. Then again its not their fault - its not in CNN’s nor Fox’s corporate interest to delve into the subject.

The “starve the beast” ideology held by some on the right could have disasterous effects on most of the population.

The mentality that taxes are unnecessary and an evil tool of liberals is ridiculous and goes to show how successful the GOP has been in framing this issue to their benefit.

As with most things in life most people will realize only too late the impact of s spiraling deficit.

I don’t know how you pulled all that from my previous post, there wasn’t anything in there remotely close to acomplaint about the liberal’s devil tool of taxes, but thanks for quoting me anyway.

I think you libs are barking up the wrong tree on this one. Overall, Bush has made Clinton look like a… a fiscally responsible Republican (hurts to say it, but way too true). In my humble opinion Bush’s strategy is to give everybody what they want, outflank any opponent, and avoid conflict. The result has been huge spending increases and massive deficits. I think the problem for him is that he won’t get much credit for a lot of the manuvers he has pulled, while large parts of his base stay home.

Like his dad before him, he appeases those who will never vote for him at the expense of those who otherwise would have. Rove is too clever by a half.

Kerry’s political theater was about forming a record. I doubt he has ever been all that shy about non-military spending increases, the absence of corresponding revenue sources notwithstanding.

As for you liberal deficit hawks, a former oxymoron made relevant by Dubbya, the amount of money we are talking about is relative peanuts. Yes, war financing can put a nation in a real bind and even destroy governments. The USA is far, far, far from that situation. In fact our federal debt as a percentage of GNP is lower than that of most of Western Europe and I believe Canada.

In sum, the overall economic burden of our situation in Iraq is very small and easily financed. It is dwarfed by other spending initiatives that a Republican President, House, and Senate are accountable for. Liberals, have at them, they deserve it. Unless, of course, you think it was money well spent…

"Sadly most Americans are absolutely clueless as to how potentially destructive the deficit could be. Then again its not their fault - its not in CNN’s nor Fox’s corporate interest to delve into the subject.

The “starve the beast” ideology held by some on the right could have disasterous effects on most of the population.

The mentality that taxes are unnecessary and an evil tool of liberals is ridiculous and goes to show how successful the GOP has been in framing this issue to their benefit."

Supply-side economics didn’t ruin us under Reagan’s watch. Nor does the GOP suggest taxes are an evil tool - this is plainly stupid.

That being said I don’t advocate supply-side economics. What I do find difficult to believe is liberals’ sudden interest in tightening up a deficit. It’s a ruse. What they want are higher taxes, so they pose as tax-raising wolves in fiscal conservative sheep’s clothing.

I don’t like deficits - in the short term, especially in a time of war, though, it makes sense to dip into the nation’s credit.

But the real problem is not whether the bills are paid with tax revenues or borrowed money - the real problem is rampant government spending. Even if the tax cuts were repealed, we would still have deficits as far as they eye can see, thanks to reckless spending by our drunken Congress and our compliant President.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Rainman, some people are pretty dead set against putting debt on the heads of the next generation…

You may not feel that way, but it is something a lot of people are concerned about. It’s a silly point to launch an attack on.

The flip flop claim is just more negative Bush administration advertising, unsubstantiated negative bullshit, and I hope it gets Bush exactly what he deserves for running that kind of campaign.[/quote]

How dare Bush print the truth. Kerry voted for the 87 bil if it included higher taxes for everyone, then against it when he couldn’t bilk the taxpayers for more cash. And that’s just the tip of the Kerry/Edwards iceberg.

How in the hell can you say that the claim is unsubstantiated? That is just liberal blinders, my friend.

If my posts/logic is so silly, why do you waste your time responding to them? Maybe there are bigger cerebral dragons you should be slaying.

Vroom, isn’t Fox news banned in Canada?

Government control at it’s finest!

Vegita ~ Prince of all Sayajins

Kerry does so much flip flopping it is not even funny. On so many different issues. Take for example issue of abortion… From the NY Post:

May 20, 2004 – DEMOCRATS fretting over fumbles by John Kerry’s campaign have something new to agonize over - his bizarre flip-flop yesterday on abortion rights.
After months of saying he’d have a litmus test as president and only pick pro-choice Supreme Court justices, Kerry did an about-face and said he might name some right-to-life justices after all.

“I will not appoint somebody with a 5-4 [Supreme] Court who’s about to undo Roe v. Wade,” Kerry told The Associated Press.

“But that doesn’t mean that if that’s not the balance of the court, I wouldn’t be prepared ultimately to appoint somebody to some court who has a different point of view. I’ve already voted for people like that. I voted for Judge [Antonin] Scalia.”

For an extra helping of flip-flop, Kerry then added that his vote for right-to-life Scalia was “a mistake.”

Huh? The bottom line seems to be that if the high court has a majority of five pro-choice justices, Kerry might name a right-to-lifer. So much for principle. One problem: Justices don’t always take the same side on every abortion issue.

Even more bizarre: Last year, Kerry vowed to “filibuster, if necessary,” to block any Supreme Court nominee who’s anti-choice. Now he’s ready to nominate the kind of judge that he’d already pledged to filibuster to block.

Why? Maybe Kerry is eyeing swing conservative Catholics in Pennsylvania and Michigan. But fudging on the court won’t make them overlook Kerry’s vote against banning partial-birth abortion.

“It’s not smart. He’s not going to gain any right-to-lifers,” says a Democratic strategist. “People see abortion as an issue that’s black or white - they can respect people on both sides but not those who try to have it both ways.”

Adds another Democratic veteran: “It doesn’t show strategic thinking. It shows someone who’s lurching from interest group to interest group.”

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway says “he must have seen our new poll. It shows only 13 percent of women agree with him that abortion for any reason should always be legal. But it doesn’t make sense to change sides.”

Also this is a super super sight just found . And ye sit is a GOP site… But it shows you all the flip flopping that Kerry has done.

http://www.gop.com/kerryvskerry/

Here are a few of them:

Flip-Flopped On Raising Taxes During Economic Downturn

September 2001: Said Should Not Raise Taxes In Economic Downturn. ?The first priority is the economy of our nation. And when you have a downturn in the economy, the last thing you do is raise taxes or cut spending. We shouldn?t do either. We need to maintain a course that hopefully will stimulate the economy. . . . No, we should not raise taxes, but we have to put everything on the table to take a look at why we have this structural problem today. . . .[Y]ou don?t want to raise taxes.? (NBC?s ?Meet The Press,? 9/2/01)

? We Should ?Absolutely Not Raise Taxes.? ?Well, I think it?s very clear what I favor because we voted for it early in the spring, which was the Democratic budget alternative that had triggers in it where you didn?t wind up spending money you don?t have. It had a smaller tax cut but more tax cut for a stimulus, which is what we need. So you ask me, what do we need now? Yes, we need additional stimulus. We should absolutely not raise taxes. We should not cut spending. What we need to do is drive the economy of this country. The economy is the number one issue. It is the most important thing we should focus on.? (CNN?s ?Evans, Novak, Hunt & Shields,? 9/8/01)

April 2002: Said He Wanted Larger Tax Cut And Was ?Not In Favor Of? Repeal. CNN?s TUCKER CARLSON: ?Senator Kerry . . . [many Democrats] [g]et a lot of political mileage out of criticizing [President Bush?s tax cut], but nobody has the courage to say repeal it. Are you for repealing it?? KERRY: ?It?s not a question of courage. . . . And it?s not an issue right now. We passed appropriately a tax cut as a stimulus, some $40 billion. Many of us thought it should have even maybe been a little bit larger this last year ? [T]he next tax cut doesn?t take effect until 2004. If we can grow the economy enough between now and then, if we have sensible policies in place and make good choices, who knows what our choices will be. So it?s simply not a ripe issue right now. And I?m not in favor of turning around today and repealing it.? (CNN?s ?Crossfire,? 4/16/02)

December 2002: Flip-Flopped, Would Keep Tax Cuts From Taking Effect. NBC?s TIM RUSSERT: ?Senator . . . should we freeze or roll back the Bush tax cut?? KERRY: ?Well, I wouldn?t take away from people who?ve already been given their tax cut ? What I would not do is give any new Bush tax cuts.? ? RUSSERT: ?So the tax cut that?s scheduled to be implemented in the coming years ?? KERRY: ?No new tax cut under the Bush plan. . . . It doesn?t make economic sense.? ? RUSSERT: ?Now, this is a change ?? (NBC?s ?Meet The Press,? 12/1/02)

? Called For Freeze Of Bush Tax Cuts In Favor Of Year-Long Suspension Of Payroll Taxes On First $10,000 Of Personal Income. ?Kerry said Bush?s tax cuts have mainly benefited the rich while doing little for the economy. Kerry is proposing to halt Bush?s additional tax cuts and instead impose a yearlong suspension of payroll taxes on the first $10,000 of income to help the poor and middle class.? (Tyler Bridges, ?Kerry Visits Miami To Start Raising Funds,? The Miami Herald, 12/7/02)

ANd the site lists 35 more flip flops… WHich are all well documented.

Joe

I could EASILY find just as many flip-flops from Bush.

The most recent one: After boasting about how he was a “war president” who makes decisions “with war on my mind” Bush has now started calling himself a “peace president”.

Talk about flip-flopping to pander to voters! He finally figured out that the war in Iraq is an anchor around his neck, so he wants to recast himself as a “peace president”.

How about Bush’s opposition to the 911 investigation (he tried to get it squashed in the beginning). Now he’s all smiles and pats on the back, once he figures out they’re going to pull their punches in the final report.

I could go on and on.

To Chuckmanjoe
The NY Post is not fit to wrap fish in.

According to Rainjack, 87 Billion dollars is small potatoes, only a fraction of our economy. Allrighty then!

First of all, the costs of the war are far beyond 87 billion. That was just the first big installment. We’re already over 150 Billion. Since most of the states are in the red, I’m sure we could be spending this money better on domestic issues like security. For example New York City is underfunded on security by 900 million dollars. Three years after 9-11, this is simply unnacceptable. And since Bus has no exit strategy for Iraq, the meter continues spin.

Second of all, a tax increase to pay for the war is not “bilking taxpayers” like you said, unless you think the war is a waste of money. So which is it? Is it a waste of money or not?

Third, the tax increase Kerry wanted (and still wants) only raises taxes on those who make over 200,000 a year in payroll. He would roll back taxes to pre-Bush levels, on people at that upper level. The tax cuts would remain in place for the middle class and below. You said Kerry wanted to raise taxes on everyone… not true.

Finally, the clowns at the Bush’s Dept of Defense testified before Congress that the war in Iraq would only cost U.S. taxpayers 2 Billion, with Iraq funding the rest through oil revenues. So once again, like so many other issues with the Bush Administration, we have to decide if they were LYING about the costs of the war, or were they just plain INCOMPETENT and really didn’t know.

Study: Kerry Tax Plan Starts Class War

Written By: William W. Beach
Published In: Budget & Tax News
Publication Date: June 1, 2004
Publisher: The Heartland Institute


According to Financial Times columnist Amity Shlaes, “George W. Bush has a war, and now John F. Kerry has one too–a class war.”

At Georgetown University in April, Kerry opened fire when he vowed to raise taxes on the top 2 percent of wage-earners in the U.S. while cutting taxes on the other 98 percent. The idea is not only to create jobs–Kerry says he can get 10 million–but to create economic opportunity. Shlaes wrote, “Kerry wants to plow through class barriers like an Abrams tank. Or, as he put it, to reclaim America on behalf of those who seek paths to a better life.”

Kerry, the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, has proposed a number of changes to U.S. tax policy that he argues will boost the economy’s performance and increase jobs.

“John Kerry has a plan to secure America’s economic future and ensure that workers can achieve the American dream in our changing economy,” claimed Kerry’s Web site on May 7. “His vision is to put Americans back to work; make America’s economy the most competitive in the world; and to restore America’s values of equity and fairness to our tax code by helping America’s middle class families and small entrepreneurs succeed.”

However, an econometric analysis of the Kerry plan, released on April 16 by The Heritage Foundation, shows the negative effects of an increase in taxes for high-income taxpayers overwhelm the positive effects of making key elements of the Bush tax plan permanent for taxpayers with incomes under $200,000. The net effect, according to the study, is “a slower economy and job creation significantly below potential.”

The analysis estimates the effects of the Kerry tax plan using a standard macroeconomic model of the U.S. economy. The analysis shows:

Employment growth under the Kerry plan recedes. Employment growth reflects the slower pace of economic activity. Under the Kerry plan, the annual rate of non-farm employment growth will be consistently below forecast each quarter for the 10 years following January 2005.
GDP slows. The nation’s output of goods and services quickly drops below current forecasts under the Kerry plan, and growth remains slower throughout the next 10 years.
After-tax income shrinks. Income after taxes, or inflation-adjusted disposable personal income, is below baseline in each year of the forecast under the Kerry plan.
Savings plummet. Lower disposable personal income means the Kerry plan would bring lower personal savings.
Kerry Tax Plan
Kerry mixes tax cuts with tax increases in his proposed tax plan. Though many details remain to be announced by the Senator’s tax team, the following appear to be principal, well-developed elements of his plan and were incorporated in the economic analysis of his proposals:

For taxpayers with incomes above $200,000, the tax benefits of policy changes from 2001 and 2003 no longer apply. Their first dollar is taxed at 15 percent rather than 10 percent, and their last dollar is taxed at 39.6 percent rather than 35 percent. Other anti-growth changes are also made.
While Kerry’s campaign has been relatively silent on federal estate and gift taxes, the study assumes the senator will propose a halt to plans to expand the estate tax exemption amount and reduce the estate and gift tax rates, as well as repeal of the estate tax in 2010.
For individually filing taxpayers with incomes below $200,000, Kerry proposes to make several of the Bush tax cuts permanent. The senator would keep the 10 percent tax rate and the expanded tax bracket. He would make permanent marriage penalty reforms. And he would permit taxpayers earning less than $200,000 to keep the $1,000 per child tax credit.
The senator provides additional tax cuts to cover health care costs. For taxpayers with incomes below $200,000, Kerry proposes a health care tax credit for those who retire early and for those who are between jobs.
The net effect of these tax policy changes, not counting the negative economic feedback they would cause, is a net tax increase of $609 billion over the 10-year period beginning January 1, 2005.

Weak Approach
While these economic estimates are likely to change as Kerry announces more details about his tax plan, they strongly indicate the weakness of his current approach. Raising taxes on high-income taxpayers to cover budget shortfalls may make political sense, but it is not the right move to encourage economic growth.

“So even as he talks of breaking down class walls, Kerry is reinforcing those walls,” Shlaes concludes. “Even as he talks of growth, he is laying plans that would slow it. It doesn’t get more inconsistent than that.”


William W. Beach is director of the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation. His email address is staff@heritage.org.

[quote]kuri wrote:
“Vroom, aren’t you from canada? Why don’t you worry about your own debt?”

Sadly most Americans are absolutely clueless as to how potentially destructive the deficit could be. Then again its not their fault - its not in CNN’s nor Fox’s corporate interest to delve into the subject.

The “starve the beast” ideology held by some on the right could have disasterous effects on most of the population.

The mentality that taxes are unnecessary and an evil tool of liberals is ridiculous and goes to show how successful the GOP has been in framing this issue to their benefit.

As with most things in life most people will realize only too late the impact of s spiraling deficit.

[/quote]

Sadly, most Americans are clueless that the current debt can generate enough econical volume to bring us out of said debt.

If you want to argue debt, tell me why John Kerry’s current spending plan, on the rare chance that he’s elected, calls for more spending than the current Administration?

How can anyone who seriously argues for extending the prescription drug benefit and for extending a universal health care benefit pretend to care about whether the government is in the red or in the black?

That’s what every liberal wants - higher taxes. That’s the only reason Kerry voted for the original war funding bill - to get those tax hikes.

In point of fact there, Lumpy - 11% of taxpayers before the tax breaks are no longer even paying taxes. Right now only 29% of americans pay any taxes at all. And you say it only benefited the rich, huh?

You’re wrong again.

Show me anywhere in our history where we have taxed our way out of a deficit.

Show me anywhere in our history where we have taxed our way out of a recession.

Did you know that Kerry’s $2 trillion spending plan still leaves the country with an additional decifit of $1.4 trillion even after he raises taxes back to Clinton levels?

John Kerry Is Different from You and Me
From the August 2, 2004 issue: Yes, he has more money. Lots more.
by Noemie Emery
08/02/2004, Volume 009, Issue 44

POOR PRESIDENT BUSH. It’s not often a man with a net worth in the low eight figures is made to feel destitute. But compared with the other three men atop the national tickets, Bush seems almost indigent. This year, both ends of both tickets are rolling in lucre. Taken together, their net worth comes out at more than $1.3 billion, equivalent to the gross national product of many small nations. If Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Democrats’ Johns–Kerry and Edwards–got together, they could fund their own country. Meanwhile, Bush, with a mere $18 million or so, is very much the low end of this quartet, worth three times less than the two men running for the privilege and post of being vice president, who score in the neighborhood of $50 million apiece. But they all seem like pikers next to John Kerry, who, thanks to his wife, has access to something over $1 billion, making him by far the richest man ever to run on a national ticket, as well as the most self-indulgent in his lifestyle, and the most quasi-royal in his sense of himself.

Wealth in American politics is of course nothing new. The Revolution was largely led by rich men from Virginia. The Declaration was written by a rich planter’s son, Thomas Jefferson; the Constitution by Gouverneur Morris, son of a rich New York farmer. George Washington was a well-to-do planter whose wealth came from his wife, who was not rich herself but had married a wealthy first husband (the John Heinz of his era). We had the Kennedy brothers, the Roosevelt cousins, the various Bushes, brothers and sons, all of them comfortable. We have the many members of the millionaires’ club in the Senate; those who got there on their names and their money (Jay Rockefeller and Edward M. Kennedy); and others (Jon Corzine) who made their own fortunes, and then bought their seats. But we have never seen anything quite like John Kerry, both in the extent of his wealth and his attitude toward it. He is not merely rich, he is stunningly wealthy. He became rich in a way unconnected to merit. Yet he seems to believe it’s his due.

In most cases, the well-to-do in American politics have been like the Kennedys, Bushes, and Roosevelts, people who lived in great comfort but not ostentation, with, say, a town house, a (family) place in the country, small pleasure boats, and of course live-in help. When he ran for president, Franklin D. Roosevelt had a flat in New York and the family seat in Hyde Park and he lived in the governor’s mansion in Albany. Theodore Roosevelt had a house in Washington (where he served as McKinley’s vice president), and his ungainly Sagamore Hill mansion on Long Island. When John Kennedy ran, he had a nice but unostentatious town house in Georgetown, and a nice but unremarkable house on Cape Cod. (To be fair, he also had access to his father’s Palm Beach oceanside mansion, and the family’s several apartments in New York.) When George W. Bush ran for president, he lived in the governor’s mansion in Austin, and his one home was his ranch.

Kerry by contrast is master and commander of no fewer than five lavish mansions, all large, and all on the priciest real estate, where property values boggle the mind: There is the $3.7 million mansion in Fox Chapel, Pa., on a 90-acre estate with a pool and a carriage house; the $6.9 million town house on Beacon Hill back in Boston; the $9.1 million waterfront house on Nantucket Island; and a $5 million ski chalet in Ketchum, Idaho, built from a 15th-century barn discovered in England that was then taken apart, shipped to America, and reassembled stone by stone. When they want to live simply, the Heinz Kerrys make do with a 23-room town house in Georgetown, almost three times the size of the one that the Kennedys lived in, and worth a mere $4.7 million. To go back and forth between all of these places, the Kerrys have the deluxe model of the Gulfstream V private jet, which retails for about $35 million.

Play, too, is costly for Kerry, who recreates with a bike that costs $8,000 and a motorboat that goes for $800,000. In 2003, Kerry’s main source of personal income was the sale for $1,350,000 of a painting, part of which he “bought” seven years ago from his wife. (Nice work if you can get it.) According to the Los Angeles Times, Franklin D. Roosevelt was worth about $11 million in today’s money when he died in 1945; Lyndon B. Johnson about $82 million in 1966; and John F. Kennedy was worth about $124 million in 1960. The same report put the wealth of Teresa Heinz Kerry at between $1 billion and $3.8 billion, or more than five times the worth of these wealthy former presidents combined. With the exception of Nelson A. Rockefeller, who eyed the presidency three times in the 1960s, and served for a short time as the appointed vice president to Gerald R. Ford, this is something without precedent in the upper levels of our national politics. Never before has there been so vast a gap between the life of a possible national leader and that of the people he wishes to govern. Whatever his politics, Kerry is living at a level of luxury wholly unseen in American politics.

WILL IT MATTER? “Americans are just not resentful of rich politicians if they feel they got their money in some fair way,” said Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, speaking of Kerry and others. But some ways are fairer than others. The closest thing to a Horatio Alger story in this year’s race is of course John Edwards, a self-made millionaire, who, if his background was not quite as grim as he paints it, at least owes his cash to his own exertions–the sweat, if not of his brow, then of his tongue. Dick Cheney was also born poor in obscurity, but, unlike Edwards, who became rich and then famous, using his fortune made in the private sector to launch him in politics, Cheney became famous, then rich. His is the classic Washington story, in which you spend years working day and night for a comparatively modest government salary and then use your contacts and experience to make tons of money.

Both Edwards and Cheney can fairly be said to have made it themselves, though the fields in which they made it–trial lawyering and the oil business–are not regarded with reverence. Bush comes from the ranks of the privileged youth who float through early life on family connections and money, and try later in life to earn it on their own. And no one can claim that his fortune–secured mainly through the sale of his stake in the Texas Rangers, which he got through the web of his father’s connections–was earned by the sweat of his brow. Bush got his access by way of his parents, but at least had to do something.

But it is with Kerry that the gap between money and effort is greatest. He secured access to a fortune of over $1 billion by saying two words: “I do.” Unless one thinks ill of the woman he married, one can hardly regard this as “earned.” Of course, his wife did not earn it either; she inherited it from her first husband, making it in effect a hand-along on two different levels. Kerry has made a practice, if not a career, of romancing very rich women and living well on their money–his first wife, Julia Thorne, had a family fortune of $300 million when he married her. Between heiresses, there was a hiatus, in which he was forced to live on his salary, which seems to have been an unpleasant experience. Mrs. Heinz took him away from all this, moving him in an instant from vagabond senator to the lap of luxury, into which he has happily settled. Add up the two marriages, and Kerry has been a consort for much of his life, a man whose wives signed the checks for the big-ticket items, a concept with a faintly old-world connotation, and one that calls to mind The Golden Bowl. Marrying money is hardly improper; but neither does it inspire confidence, especially for those of the masculine gender. Cinderella is a fairy-tale heroine, but a consort always appears just a little ridiculous–at best a freeloader, at worst someone suspected of possibly planning an accident. (See “Hitchcock, Alfred,” and just about any film noir.)

Granted staggering wealth on the basis of marriage, Kerry seems to believe he deserves it, and perhaps always has. Such, at least, is the popular perception among the voters who know him best. “One of the surest ways to get the phones ringing on any Massachusetts talk-radio show is to ask people to call in and tell their John Kerry stories,” says Howie Carr, the Boston Herald columnist and radio host. “The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: The junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing), or ducking out before the bill arrives. The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of the lesser mortal: ‘Do you know who I am?’” Just For Kerry is a common Bostonian take on what his initials stand for; and a possible insight into his priorities could be inferred from his tax records for the year 1993 (when he was between wives), in which he earned $130,345 and gave exactly $175 to charity, while indulging in an $8,600 Italian-made mountain bike for himself.

Throughout his career as an officeholder, John Kennedy gave his salary away to various charities, and lived on his trust fund. In this respect as in so many others, John Forbes Kerry is no JFK. “Kerry tosses around quarters like they were manhole covers,” Carr jokes, while maintaining a fondness for luxuries. According to the Boston Globe, between 1990 and 1995 (when he married John Heinz’s widow), Kerry earned a total of $724,042 and gave $4,869 to charity, or a grand total of 0.7 percent. (In the same years, William Weld, Kerry’s blue-blood opponent in the Senate race of 1996, earned $1,082,875 and gave away $164,928, or 15.2 percent.) In this six-year span between his two marriages, the most Kerry ever gave to charity was $2,039 in 1994. Two years, he gave nothing at all. In the years between his two marriages, Kerry leaned heavily on friends and constituents to cushion the stresses of living on a salary, receiving generous favors of condos and cars. In his new status of billionaire’s consort, he hasn’t stopped asking for favors. A fire hydrant that prevented him and his wife from parking their SUV in front of their Beacon Hill town house was removed by the city of Boston. The lawn at the imported ski chalet in Idaho is kept fresh and green by a water pipe laid down and maintained by the state.

ECONOMIC CONSERVATIVES–and most voters–have traditionally been happy to let the rich rake it in, as long as the other classes also keep rising, on the grounds that a system that allows a few to be obscenely rich also creates a better life for most people, or at least a more prosperous life than they would lead under a sluggish economy that tried much harder to spread much less money around. But liberals cling to the cause of proportion, the sense that it is indecent for any one class, one person, or even one country to claim too many of the goods of the earth. How dreadful, they tell us, that Americans, who make up 3 percent of the world’s population, consume 30 percent of its product, and how dreadful that 3 percent of the population in this country controls 20 percent of its wealth. So is it also dreadful that John Kerry’s wife controls more than the gross national product of many Third World countries; that he has five mansions while most struggle to keep up the payments on one modest house, and many own no home at all?

Not fair at all, one can hear Kerry saying, as he jets between Georgetown and Boston on the Flying Squirrel (his wife’s private jet, equivalent models of which would cost $5,000 an hour to charter). How much does it take to keep John Kerry going? Let’s see. Add up his wife’s holdings, and divide them by two (they have no dependent children still living with them) and you come up with some interesting things. Their five very large houses are worth more than $30 million (the property taxes alone cost more than most people’s houses), so it takes $20 million simply to house him. Add in the plane and the boat, and the cost of transporting and entertaining John Kerry comes to almost $16 million. Add in incidentals–the bike, the tending by Christophe, etc.–and you come out with one historically high-maintenance candidate.

Most rich people in politics have had one or two major houses, and made constant use of them. The Franklin Roosevelts spent their time at Hyde Park; the Theodore Roosevelts at Sagamore Hill. And the Kennedys were either in Palm Beach or Cape Cod, usually with a large horde of children. The Heinz Kerrys, by contrast, stay in some of their multimillion-dollar dwellings only a few weeks in the year. Most of the American political rich seem like American types, only richer, as they play in their none-too-elaborate family compounds, tossing a football, or whacking at brush. Kerry is a departure from this pattern, in the scale of his wealth, and his attitude to it. This is a republic, not the Austro-Hungarian Empire, nor even a plot from a Henry James novel. Are we really ready for a consort who seems to believe he’s a prince?

Vroom, isn’t Fox news banned in Canada?

Banned? That would be news to me…