February 28, 2001 11:00 pm

President Bush insists that his proposed $1.6 trillion tax cut plan is what Americans and the U.S. economy need. House and Senate Democrats say the plan, combined with proposed increases in spending on military and other programs, would reverse efforts of the past eight years to reduce the deficit and, over the long haul, hurt the economy. The president says economic forecasts show the federal government will see more surpluses. Democrats say the surpluses arent a sure thing.

So who is right? Economists views tend to reflect their political leanings. No one can say for sure whether the presidents plan will accomplish what he says it will. But it should be given a chance.

If President Bush is right, the tax cuts will provide the economic boost the economy needs. The theory is that the savings Americans will see from the tax cut would help reinvigorate our slumping economy. If hes right, he could become a very popular president.

If Democrats are right, only a small percentage of Americans will see any economic benefit, the federal deficit will go up instead of down and George W. will be a one-term president. Isnt that what Democrats want?

The fact is that Bush is our president. His economic platform should be given a chance. Congressional Democrats should step aside and let his economic programs proceed. Time will tell who was right.

Time to get tough

The Senate Transportation Committee is debating what to do about the states disabled parking permit law. People who misuse the permits would face stiffer penalties under a bill before the Legislature.

The issue is one that the Legislature needs to address, but it must not do so at the expense of people with disabilities. The bill under consideration would stiffen penalties against people who misuse permits but at the same time eliminate free meter parking for those with permits.

The state should crack down on able-bodied people who have managed to obtain and use a disabled parking permit, just as it should with people who park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities. The state must strengthen its procedures for granting permits and require that permits be renewed on a regular basis. And it should revisit what constitutes a permit an easily transferrable placard or rear-view mirror tag, or a special registration tag that could be affixed to license plates and renewed, with documentation, every two years.

Able-bodied people who make use of disabled permits are cheating people with disabilities. The Legislature should direct its wrath at people who cheat the system, not those whom the system was intended to help.