Administration's tax plan does little for Latinos
June 6, 2001
Contrary to its campaign rhetoric, the Bush administration is ignoring the interests of the burgeoning Latino population. Even worse, it's courting Latino voters through the political equivalent of smoke and mirrors.
Earlier this year, Hispanic leaders urged the new administration to invest in specific education, health and skills-building programs critical for Latino families. The administration responded with a budget plan that threatened to cut services in those areas so it could pay for a tax-cut plan that provides little, if any, direct benefit to more than half of Latino families with children.
What's more, when a bipartisan group of moderate senators developed two important tax measures to help low-income families left out of the Bush plan -- a revised child-credit provision and another one to increase benefits to families that receive the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) -- the administration shot them down.
Fortunately, these provisions withstood the White House's lobbying and were included in the final bill. As a result, 4 million more Latino children will benefit from the tax package than would have under the administration's original tax plan. Almost 80 percent of Latino families with children will get a modest tax cut, starting next year.
But instead of shaping policy to help Latinos, the Bush administration has relied on symbolic gestures, such as the weekly presidential radio address in Spanish. President Bush assumes Hispanics cannot tell the difference between style and substance, and this adds insult to injury.
Will Bush acknowledge in his bilingual radio address that under his plan, 40 percent of low-income families would have been left out? Will he admit that federal support for education, job training and affordable housing has been trimmed to provide enormous tax cuts for the wealthy?
Don't bet on it.
Latinos don't need weekly radio addresses in Spanish. We need a change in public policy that would improve economic and educational opportunities for the 35.3 million Latinos in this country. Otherwise, our families and children could suffer.
Cecilia Munoz (tilda accent over the n) is vice president for policy at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation's largest Latino advocacy group. Eric Rodriguez is senior policy analyst for economic issues at NCLR. They can be reached at email@example.com.