Friday, February 27, 2009
Let the Bush tax cuts die with the Bush legacy
Part of President Obama's budget plan, just released yesterday, is a projection of increased federal revenues due to the expiration in 2010 of the so-called "Bush tax cuts" on the wealthiest individuals. Republicans are, predictably, screaming bloody murder.
At issue are the tax cuts passed in 2001 by Congress during the first 6 months of Junior's "presidency." Remember? Before bin Laden gave him his "mighty gift?" Back when Junior was just an inept and ineffectual shadow of his father?
These tax cuts were targeted for persons making more than $250,000 per year. Junior and company claimed that they were a necessary response to the (relatively mild) recession we were experiencing in early 2001. Estimates of lost federal revenue as a result of these tax cuts are as high as $1.35 trillion.
Unsurprisingly, the same Republicans who advocated these expensive tax cuts (which, after all, filled the coffers of their biggest campaign contributors) were also those who whined that Obama's $900 billion stimulus bill was "too big."
Get it? Over a trillion is not too much to give back to corporate titans and blue-blooded inheritors. But $900 billion is way too much to spend on helping working people keep their jobs and save their homes.
Well, they lost on the stimulus bill, as we all saw recently. But now, they're making a feeble attempt to save Junior's irresponsible tax cuts.
But this time, I'm afraid public sentiment is very much against them. They are trying to frame the expiration of the tax cuts as a tax increase on small businesses, but most people just don't see it that way.
In light of all the federal bailout dollars, those borrowed hundreds of billions tossed into the raging inferno of our financial crisis, there is just not a lot of sympathy for the folks at the top of the income scale right now. To the extent that there is any identifiable group to blame for our current (and perhaps, ultimate) economic crisis, it is that very group, which I call the plutocrats, that benefits from the Bush tax cuts.
regressive policies, and lobbying for competition-stifling legislation. These are the same people who, fresh from cashing those huge government bailout checks, continued on as they had done with their extravagant junkets to Las Vegas, Monarch Beach, and Half Moon Bay. These are the people typified by rapscallions like Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford.
It all fit in well with the plutocrat mentality that Junior and company encouraged: those at the top are there because they deserve it. According to them, there are a certain class of people that are inherently more deserving of riches and ease.
But Mammon, their god, whom they believed was their eternal savior, their facilitator as they manipulated the levers of power, is turning out to be a phantom, a figment. All their funny money, that ephemeral substance that allowed them to imagine they were superior, is going up in smoke before their very eyes.
Conservatives will sometimes preach "tough love" as a means of dealing with the down-trodden. Maybe it's time for the plutocrats to get a little taste of that bitter medicine. And for my part, I can't see a need to sugar the pill for them by extending the tax cuts that started them down their delusional path.
Come on down, plutocrats! We'll save you a place in line at the soup kitchen!