IN his desperation to rescue his presidency from the ashes of last month's Congressional elections, Bill Clinton has come forward with a bold tax package aimed at wooing back the disaffected middle class voter. Allowing savers to withdraw money from tax-deductible retirement funds to buy homes or pay education bills and giving tax breaks of up to $10,000 a year for higher education might not go down well with fiscal purists or advocates of a simple tax system. But parading a fistful of populist measures under the catchy slogan of a 'middle-class bill of rights' and stealing the Republicans' thunder on lean government may be enough to improve his ratings - at least temporarily. What happens once the proposals go to a Congress already grappling with a broader, more radical set of spending cuts proposed by the Republican majority is less certain. But Mr Clinton's proposals are a powerful opening salvo in the 1996 presidential election battle. However it is disingenuous, to say the least, for the President to claim his announcement is anything other than 'politics as usual'. This is a blatantly political package which runs completely counter to the cautious style of existing economic management and to the economic cycle, as perceived by the US Federal Reserve Board. It promises to let loose a new round of consumer spending at a time when the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates to keep the threat of inflation at bay.