Neiman Marcus’s Compassion

Does George W. Bush’s proposed tax cut really favor the rich? Here’s catalogued proof that it does.

August 2, 2000

Does George W. Bush's proposed tax cut really favor the rich? Here's catalogued proof that it does.

At almost every stop along the campaign trail, George W. Bush has made it clear that he feels Americans are over-taxed. But when Mr. Bush revealed his tax reduction package to the public, critics soon accused him of serving the interests of only the wealthiest Americans. His compassion did not seem to reach down to those less well-off. Now we find that the upscale department store Neiman Marcus is openly campaigning for a George W. Bush-style sense of compassion.

Just as Mr. Bush was putting a lock on the Republican Party’s presidential nomination this spring, Dallas-based Neiman Marcus was publishing its May 2000 catalogue. Pitched as a “tribute to loving hearts and minds,” the company’s catalogue provided a piercing insight into Mr. Bush’s campaign statement that “prosperity alone is simply materialism.”

Of course, Mr. Bush’s words were meant to define what he means by “compassionate conservatism.” Perhaps it is not so much of a coincidence, then, that the title of Neiman Marcus’s catalogue was — you guessed it — “Compassion.”

So, according to Neiman Marcus, what does it cost to express one’s compassion these days? Take shirts, for example. On page 93 of the catalogue, you will find some very nice shirts handcrafted in England. For $195, you can wear your compassion on your sleeves — or, rather, as your sleeves.

For women who are suffering from far too much exposure to the sun, they can find relief on page 143: soothing skin cream for the paltry sum of $160. Need a new watch? Not a problem. Turn to page 177 and you will find a man’s wrist-watch retailing for $13,000. It would appear that Neiman Marcus has a very clear idea of who will benefit from Mr. Bush’s tax reforms.

Certainly President Clinton seemed to imply as much when he offered his own definition of compassionate conservatism:

“Near as I can tell, here is what it means. It means I like you, I do. And I would like to be for the Patients Bill of Rights — and I’d like to be for closing up a gun-show loophole. And I’d like not to squander the surplus and save Social Security and Medicare for the next generation. I’d like to raise the minimum wage. I’d like to do these things. But I just can’t — and I feel terrible about it.”

Of course, Mr. Bush would counter this charge by saying that his tax reduction plan gives money back to all U.S. taxpayers. And Neiman Marcus already has a few good ideas for what you can spend that rebate on.