Beating the Bush

Take one tax rebate, a Houston man advises, and apply liberally

"Well, we certainly believe that people can spend their tax rebate any way they want, though I think a better idea than opposing President Bush's common-sense agenda would be to save it, or pay down your debt, as opposed to give it to some left-wing organization that's on some left-wing crusade against the president."

Did he mention left-wing?

"If they've raised 625 people with extensive publicity, that means the American people are not interested in giving their tax rebate to a left- wing organization."

Adams says he didn't even vote in the last presidential election.
Deron Neblett
Adams says he didn't even vote in the last presidential election.

Perhaps they'd want to donate to a faith-based charity -- "I think that's wonderful" -- or maybe Club For Growth, a D.C.-based conservative political action committee, Polland says. He explains that the PAC solicited tax rebates with the promise that it would "make sure it's spent properly to defend the president and his record."

Peter Durkin, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, is more interested in defenses against the president and his record, and is a welcome idea to him. With an $11 million budget and a clientele that's 95 percent low- income women, Planned Parenthood is anticipating a pinch Durkin remembers from the Reagan-Bush years. There hasn't been an increase in subsidized family-planning funds in a decade, and Governor Rick Perry recently vetoed Medicaid legislation that would have expanded health insurance for low-income women.

"These are not fun times," Durkin says. Bush's ban on U.S. funds for foreign health organizations who provide abortions or related services "is the first shot out of the cannon," he says. Planned Parenthood also feels threatened by anti-choice Bush judicial appointees and likely budget cuts for low-income clients.

If Adams would link the Houston chapter of Planned Parenthood beside the national organization on his site, Durkin says, "he'd have a friend for life."

Adams will probably do that. Hell, he listed Oprah. People e-mail him suggestions for worthwhile organizations, and he adds most of them to the list. He doesn't link to political parties. He probably wouldn't link to the National Rifle Association. He's looking for "a hard knock" back to the left to balance the seesaw.

But just this one punch, then he's gone. Rebate checks should start bumping through the mails in late July. When that's done, Adams will send out his reminders, close down the site and go back to his daily routine. He's pledged his own $300 but hasn't decided where it's going yet. This isn't his mission. It's just an idea.

Besides, there really isn't any way to measure the idea's success as an economic proposition. And there's no opportunity for Adams to make a penny off it. "I feel," he says, "more American now than I ever have."

But as long as it's just an idea, Adams does have a dream goal. It would require over 100,000 pledges of $300 apiece, out of a total tax rebate of $38 billion to 91 million Americans.

The dream is to hit $33 million -- matching the estimate of the golden parachute that floated Dick Cheney from the Halliburton Company into the vice presidency.

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