If George Bush doesn't know better, Alan Greenspan should. Having the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, who happens to be the arbiter of monetary policy, preside over a fiscal policy commission to review the pros and cons of a cut in the capital gains tax is just plain improper. It crosses over a sub-section of the separation of powers concept that is essential to good governance.
Granted, the great divide between fiscal and monetary policy is not enshrined in the Constitution along with the separation of the executive, legislative and executive branches. But since the Fed was created in 1913 as this nation's version of a central bank, with large control over money supply, interest rates and international exchange, its independence from White House and congressional meddling has been a goal worth fighting for. Often when elected politicians have gone haywire over spending and revenues, sound monetary management has acted as a corrective.
Yet now we have a situation in which Mr. Greenspan has allowed himself and his agency to be compromised. Why he agreed to chair a capital gains tax review commission has drawn forth the usual answer -- because the president asked him to. That response does not pass muster. When the president over-reaches on such a sensitive matter of principle, persons of principle should say no.