Maybe the showdown between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and firebrand Republican Sharron Angle was inevitable.
You would certainly think so after reading the angry letter Angle wrote to Reid on Nov. 20, 1993, decrying his support for President Bill Clinton’s broad-based budget bill, which included a large tax increase on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of Americans while delivering tax cut incentives to 90 percent of the nation’s small businesses. Though controversial at the time, Clinton’s fiscal policies helped lead to unprecedented job growth.
Angle let Reid have it with both barrels. She also bluntly revealed her belief that the only way to save America was to end "social and entitlement programs."
As a Senate candidate this year, Angle and her campaign mechanics have worked hard to soften her rhetoric about "eliminating" Social Security in favor of "privatizing" and "personalizing" individual accounts. She’s also suffered self-inflicted wounds on federal unemployment insurance extensions and other "entitlement" programs.
Her language is warmer and fuzzier now, but there was a time she pulled no punches:
"I and the majority of my fellow Nevadans are sickened by the passage of the recent huge tax increase bill. With YOUR help the quality of life in America has taken another step into the pit of economic collapse. Clinton’s mother-of-all tax packages is the world’s biggest tax increase ever. It increases government spending by $300 billion, increases the national debt by $1 trillion, it is retroactive to January 1, and probably the most offensive, it schedules 80 percent of the promised spending cuts to take place after the next Presidential election. What a joke, and not a very funny one at that!
"Under your new bill, I and the rest of us (including my children and yours) will work from January 1 until July 31 to cover our tax liability. How much more can you suck out of the taxpayers before everything collapses? It is evident that you have caved in with our President and the rest of those tax-and-spenders in Washington that voted for this disgrace.
"The answer to this mess is clear. STOP FUNDING THE WASTEFUL SOCIAL AND ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS. MAKE THE DIFFICULT CHOICES THAT WILL KEEP OUR COUNTRY STRONG. THAT’S WHAT YOU WERE ELECTED TO DO! I beg you not to support taxpayer funded national health care which is the next hit we are in line for. I also request that you end the spending (of) tax dollars to support pornography and perversion through continuing grants from the National Emdowment for the Arts.
"In closing, I want to reaffirm my total dissatisfaction with your support for the tax bill. I will be expressing my dissatisfaction in the voting booth in the next election.
"Please take the following words of Professor Alexander Tyler to heart. He said, ‘A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves a largess from the treasury. From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy.’ …
"I hope you receive thousands of letters like mine. Maybe then you will understand the impact of your tax bill on America, and the outrage of its citizens."
In 1993, Angle was a member of Nevada’s far-right Independent American Party and sat on the Nye County School District board. Her rhetoric changed only after she prevailed in the 2010 Republican primary.
Ending Social Security and other entitlement programs? No sweeping national health care reform? Pornography and perversion aplenty in the National Endowment for the Arts? Alexander Tyler?
That’s the Angle I know.
Her recent soft-lens campaign style notwithstanding, I suspect Sharron Angle is the same as she ever was.
John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at Smith@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/smith.