Gephardt puts health care over tax cuts for wealthy

Wednesday, May 7, 2003 at 1:00am

Nine Democrats are running for president in 2004, and there had been no way to tell them apart. Until Congressman Dick Gephardt hit one out of the park.

Gephardt has put forth the only new idea in the campaign so far. His message: The No. 1 problem in this country is 41.2 million Americans with no health care. We are a compassionate people, Gephardt argues, and providing health care for all Americans should be our top priority. It's even more important than tax cuts. But you can't have both.

That's where Gephardt leaves more timid Democrats in the dust. While they're arguing over whether this year's tax cut should be $350 billion or $550 billion, he takes the more honest approach. We can't pay for both new tax cuts and health care. So Gephardt opposes any new tax cut for 2003. Not only that, he proposes rescinding President Bush's mammoth $1.3 trillion tax cut of 2001.

The Missouri Democrat's audacious plan has even inspired the grudging support, and fear, of some conservatives. George Will, for example, admitted his admiration for Gephardt's plan on ABC News' This Week:

"First, it is big

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