Saturday, June 25, 2005


Bush's war cry: Soak the middle class!

Hey kids, how about a joke!

OK, so Bill Gates and his accountant walk into a bar. It's a seedy skid row kind of place with a bartender and five drunks staring into their drinks, grateful to be someplace warm. With Gates and his accountant, that makes eight people. The accountant does some quick number crunching and announces that the average person currently inhabiting this establishment enjoys a net worth in excess of $5 billion.

Funny, huh? No, not really? Yeah, you're right, it's not funny, especially considering this is the kind of math President Bush used to sell us on his tax cuts. As it turns out, the joke's on us. And the punchlines never seem to stop.

I bring this issue up in the wake of the House's passage of a bill that would ax about $1 billion in spending and eliminate 48 federal programs. You see, the Republicans have become budget hawks this week. Apparently, we have $1.6 trillion to finance these current and future tax cuts. But all of a sudden, Republicans are talking about frugality and the need to make tough choices on our spending.

Let's talk more about those tax cuts. Remember how Bush promised the average American more than a $1,000 in annual tax cuts? He was a 100 percent correct. Of course he neglected to point out that we have such huge income disparities these days between the top 1 percent (those earning at least roughly $1.2 million) and the other 99 percent of us that those averages would be skewed by the seven-figure-plus incomes earned by the those at the top. Hence the oft-repeated anecdote about Bill Gates in a skid row bar exponentially boosting the average income. Once you look at the median tax cut, a far more reliable landmark, that tax cut drops sharply with estimates ranging anywhere from $150 to $650.

Now consider this: One third of Americans will get nothing back from these tax cuts. That's right, one-third will get zero, nada, zilch. Many of these unofrtunates earned too little money and paid too little in taxes. Still others couldn't claim any of the desirable deductions. You know, capital gains, spouse, kid and all that. Now I ask you, if the average American earns more than $1,000 in tax cuts, but one-third of our population gets nothing, how can this be a reliable figure? It seems even less reliable when you consider that 1 percent of the population will receive at least half of these tax cuts. Had Bush considered cutting payroll taxes, do you think the benefits would have fallen more evenly up and down the ladder? I wonder.

In the meantime, the mega-wealthy have done quite well. Using Bush's favorite statistical landmark, the average 1-percenter earned $12,000 last year. As the Bush tax cuts continue to kick in through the end of this decade, the super-wealthy will accrue cuts averaging $342,000.
As for you, middle-income American, don't expect to accrue much of anything. Under Bush's tax plan, you've probably gotten what you're going to get, if you got anything at all.

Now let's circle back to this business of budget cuts, the second in this one-two punch. We've clearly spent a lot of money to provide large windfalls to 1 percent of the population, and let's not even talk about the $400 billion we've spent so far in Iraq. The Republicans are suddenly feeling positively hawkish about the budget and have proposed eliminating 48 programs and making $1 billion in cuts, and this is just one of 11 spending bills. On the chopping block, we have a program to train doctors willing to work in rural America, $806 million in funding to Bush's own already-underfunded No Child Left Behind education program and $320 million in community action agencies to assist the poor. That last one seems especially rough, doesn't it? Bush has cut a program that helps the poor in order to subsidize tax cuts that didn't benefit the poor at all.

And if you hear any trickle-down dogmatists start in on how these tax cuts are needed to stimulate the economy, remind them that Bush's first term showed the greatest net job loss of any presidential term since Herbert Hoover's one time at bat. Eighty percent of those jobs lost by Bush vanished after the first of the tax cuts kicked in.

To wrap up, let's look at what seems to be the truly dark side of all of this. Many conservatives see nothing wrong with huge budget deficits. Take President Reagan, for example. He had no problem running up a budget deficit of over $250 billion. Our current budget deficit stands at well over $400 million. Is this wreckless spending intentional? Could it be that these huge deficits provide the Bush administration and Republican Congress the excuse they need to take an ax to our government? Far fetched? I don't think so. Don't forget that conservative bigwig Grover Norquist said he wishes to shrink government to the size where he can drag it into the bathtub and drown it. If they get their wish, where does that leave the other 99 percent of us?

The joke's clearly on us, and it's growing less and less funny.

From the files of Republican divisiveness and hate-mongering

"Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers...Liberals saw what happened to us and said 'We must understand our enemies.'"
- Karl Rove, speaking Wednesday at a fund-raiser

"If people want to try to engage in personal attacks instead of defending their philosophy, that's their business."
- Scott McClellan, defending Rove's comments

As I've pointed out, leading Democrats were quick to repudiate Howard Dean's comments a few weeks ago. What we see here, of course, are Republicans again making excuses for clearly inappropriate behavior.

You say, hatefulness and divisivness, I say, truth. Is it hateful to tell the truth? I didn't see any "hatfull" attitude. While you're bringing up "hatefulness and divisivness," don't forgot Senator Dick Durbin's quote (what conservatives have really been talking about - not Howard Dean) How on earth can the party of Dick Durban, Teddy Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, and Michael Moore even mention anyone else as hatefull and devisive - y'all wrote the book. Here's Durban's quote:
From the Chicago Sun Times
Last Tuesday, Senator Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, quoted a report of U.S. "atrocities" at Guantanamo and then added:

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings."

for the rest of this story
Let me pipe in again here. I've got to say, you Dems are great politicians. Dems have really mastered the art of using words as weapons. And I mean that, in this sense - Dems are masterful at using words to manipulate the truth. For instance, Demostrategist develop "talking points" and distribute them every morning via fax machines to Dems on capital hill. The Dems can be heard all over tv land parroting the same phrase, and soon you start hearing it from the Demominions around the country. The second tactic used by Dems to suppress and manipulate the truth is "branding." This involves branding or labeling some one or some idea in a consistent manner, regardless of its applicability, in order to create a negative association. The Mouth has done a fine job of this in recent post, branding anyone or anything said in disagreement as "devisive," or "hatfull." But, I suppose its true, if you say anything often enough, people will start believing it.
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