September 26, 2005

Gene Lyons

Backlit by temporary spotlights flown to New Orleans, Bush vowed to spare no expense in what he called "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." He added that "federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone." Costs are estimated at $200 billion, very roughly what the U.S. expects to spend in Iraq this year.

And here’s the beauty part: In the short run, those billions will come mostly from the governments of China and Saudi Arabia in the form of Treasury Bond purchases. Eventually, of course, the debt must be repaid with interest, but not while Bush is president. Sweet.

Pressed by reporters for a ballpark estimate, the president shrugged. Rebuilding after Katrina, he said, would "cost whatever it costs." He vowed not to raise taxes. Unspecified cuts in other government programs supposedly would make up the difference.

Since Bush took office in 2001, government spending has risen by almost a third, from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion, Newsweek reports. He has never vetoed a spending bill. In recently signing a $286.4 billion, pork-laden transportation bill—$250 million to build a bridge from a town of 8,000 to an island of 50 in a powerful Alaska congressman’s district, for example—Bush praised himself for doing it the "fiscally responsible way." Instead of raising taxes, he borrowed the money.

Bush "conservatism," see, is grasshopper conservatism. Party today, let the ants pay the caterer another day. Meanwhile, two little known, millionaires-only tax cuts enacted in 2001 will take effect next year. By removing ceilings on personal exemptions and itemized deductions, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that the provisions will cut income taxes on the top 0.2 percent of taxpayers an average of $20,000 each. The five-year budget cost is $35 billion. With hundreds of thousands homeless and destitute, do they really need it?

Then there’s that GOP obsession, the so-called "death tax" repeal. It’s valuable only to heirs (like Bush himself) who expect to inherit multimillion-dollar fortunes. Just over 1 percent of inheritors last year paid any estate tax at all. Roughly one-quarter of the total collected came from estates of more than $20 million.

The average estate tax paid in 2003, reports Ernest Dumas in the Arkansas Times, came to 17 percent. Middle-class wage earners pay higher withholding taxes. Contrary to GOP propaganda, most large estates consist of unrealized capital gains that have never been taxed at all.

Keeping the estate tax could pay for Katrina all by itself. Instead, Bush vows to ask Congress to make tax cuts enacted in 2001 for the wealthiest Americans permanent. Over a decade, that’s expected to cost an estimated $1.4 trillion at a time of record deficits. Can the nation afford it?

Read the entire piece here.

28 Comments:

At 9/26/2005 6:55 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Katrina took the covers off the rampant poverty in the gulf areas of our country. Could we have afforded to eliminate the poverty there before Katrina. Sure - as long as we were willing to forget about making millionaires richer with greater tax cuts.

Will this president do anything to cause the above mentioned millionaires to suffer a dime of cost or tax breaks? Not likely. What will likely happen is cuts in human services which will ensure no change to the roles of poverty in the US.

Shameful but reality. Bush holds the power and his will be done.

Remember he is a texas oilman 1st and foremost. He is not a humanitarian contrary to what his photo opps want to portray!!

 
At 9/26/2005 9:38 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Bush has spent more money on programs for the poor than Clinton ever did. Black home ownership is at an all time high. The poor in New Orleans were the direct result of the Great Society policies. Here's a news flash for you-they were porr when Clinton was in office too.

 
At 9/26/2005 10:53 AM, Blogger diehard said...

I wouldn't refer to Bush as an oil man. That would entail work!
The right wing leaning media was on board last weekend to help patch back together Bush's faltering Presidency.
Ignoring the peace march.
Even with that he still looked like a kid that had been held after school that just wanted to go relax on his napping couch at the White House!

 
At 9/26/2005 11:43 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Dave, what planet are you on??

Are ya smokin crack or something?

Well, it's clear to me you don't give a dam. Even if the figures you tout are true, we still have a big problem in our country with poverty.

I see by the article here that Bush is going to take a page out of the Regan playbook on how to be president when you don't have a friggin clue -- just make sure the debt comes due when you are done with your term(s). Let it be someone else's problem.

Regan's debt was paid down by Democrats who made common sense decisions. Now Bush is going to run up the credit card on us all once again....

 
At 9/26/2005 1:20 PM, Blogger politicalwind said...

Bush is by far the most fiscally reckless and irresonsible President we've ever had. There is no leadership going on regarding the deficit, and he's getting no help from Republicans who control the House and Senate.

After inheriting a surplus from the Clinton Administration, Bush has squandered the surplus and transformed them into the largest deficits in American history. This, at a time when he's pushing tax cut after tax cut -- aimed at high income earners -- and more spending.

Republicans are now the "borrow and spend" party, and I shudder to think what my three children will inherit in the way of taxes, deficits and lost economic opportunities as a result of this Administration.

And don't blame it on Katrina and 9-11l; those represent a fraction of the new Bush spending.

 
At 9/26/2005 3:41 PM, Blogger Dave said...

There was no surplus, it was a projected surplus that never existed.

 
At 9/26/2005 4:40 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

Forget the estate tax. We should take everything anyone has over $10 million. Nobody needs more than $10 million right?

 
At 9/26/2005 6:59 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Sr B and Dave - yada yada yada - you say, rich good; poor bad --- rich powerful; poor powerless.

The measure of any developed society and their collective worth is only as good as the total educational system and the social programs in place to the poor and our children. Over 80% of the poor are people either under age 18 or over age 70.

So guys, your cavelier attitude shows me that you are an "Ive got mine" person and to hell what the other countries think of us - as long as we can drive that SUV or that Lexus and go on holiday.

 
At 9/26/2005 8:36 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

That's a pretty cute little speech you got going there, maybe. Yes, those of us who don't think the government has the right to confiscate a sizable portion of someone's property at their death are horrible people. Dear God, we want someone to get to keep what they've earned. You can put words in my mouth and suggest that somehow that means I think that poor people are bad. It's pretty easy to advocate the increase of spending on the poor when you are advocating doing it with someone else's money. Downsize your house, buy a used car and eat out less and give what you save to the poor if you are so worried about them. But get off your whiny high horse, you snide little prick and take your "measure of a society" utopian crap back to ninth grade social studies class.

 
At 9/27/2005 1:17 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Dave and Bad Breath,
You're both nothing but guys who love to mouth off and start fights. I call people like that assholes, but that's just me.

Dave spouts "facts" that simply aren't. And apparently, for Dave, if Bush spent more than Clinton on "the poor", then that must mean that the problem can safely be dismissed and ignored. Or perhaps Dave is trying to say no problem exists? Whatever he's saying, it doesn't refute the argument that more needs to be done to address poverty in this country.

And Badbreath is in fine right wing form, substituting a snarky jerk attitude, reverting to infantile stereotypes and his "boogy-men" that he quivers in fear of, like "hippies" and people that care about the environment... dangerous people like that.

Try to at least offer something that shows even a bit of thought here guys. Or is thinking something those "liberal eggheads" do, and therefore not your style?

 
At 9/27/2005 6:38 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Well badbreath at least I have learned a few things in class. Unlike you who only care about numero uno - yourself always.

So sad you are lost and unsaveable.

I rest my case.

 
At 9/27/2005 7:03 AM, Blogger Dave said...

dope


Which facts aren't? And what is your solution to the war on poverty if not more money?

 
At 9/27/2005 9:45 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

First Dave, how you can read the facts in the Lyons piece and still maintain everything's just fine is stunning.

And I am beyond skeptical of the fact that Bush "spent more on the poor" than Clinton. I'd like to see what he considers "spending on the poor".

And who said that the solution to poverty couldn't involve more money?

The fact remains that there are hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on dubious and ill-considered government programs.

It's a matter of priorities. For one instance, and by no means the most important, is it more important to this country to let the Paris Hilton's of the world keep a few hundred thousand of tax dollars, or undertake some meaningful efforts to reduce the economic disparity in this country?

And if you think the rich are rich because they're just that smart and hard-working, you've got problems.

They are extremely rich 9 times out of 10 due to inheritence (and yes, they'd been paying inheritence taxes for generations with no ill effects)

They're very rich often because this administration and those in the past as well as congress have been their paid servants in proposing and enacting endless legislation and other laws which both enable them to pay almost no taxes, far, far less than the middle class, and to in many instances have the government literally give them billions in subsidies and guarantees, ensure that they make enormous profits while avoiding any risk, and give them endless other benefits that ensure that they play by an entirely different set of rules, rules which are only there to benefit them and increase their wealth.

How can you believe that out of all the critical problems in this country, that the biggest priority for our economic well-being and the good of society is to give enormous tax cuts to the very richest in the country, to spend mulitiple TRILLIONS in a scheme to hand over social security profits to Wall Street firms, and in the process kill it, or remove the burden of paying a tiny fraction of their inheritance in taxes from an almost microscopic segment of the country, those inheriting over 20 million dollars in one fell swoop.

As a very small example of such idiocy, Bush gave the wealthy tax breaks for buying gas guzzling Hummers. That's stupid on so many levels as to need no explanation.

Maybe eliminating idiotic and counter productive measures like that would be a good start in preventing Bush and Co. from further accelerating this country's slide into becoming a banana republic.

It's clear that Bush and his cronies admire and envy the dictatorships in which there is a plutocracy which rules the country with impunity while the vast underclass lives just at or below subsistence levels. Nearly all their priorities and efforts are to enact laws which serve to move this country further and further toward that model.

Handing more and more money to the richest 1 or 2% of this country at the expense of bleeding the middle and lower class white isn't the way to combat poverty.

The gulf between the rich and poor in this country has never been wider, and it's getting more vast all the time.

And if someone with an estate of over 20 MILLION DOLLARS is such a collosally greedy ass as to begrudge having to pay a tiny portion of it to the country which made it possible for that wealth to be created, then they should have ALL of it taken from them and they should be deported.

To defend repealing the estate tax as somehow being unfair is ridiculous. Poor, poor Paris Hilton... whatever would she do without hundreds of thousands of tax breaks?

 
At 9/27/2005 2:03 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9/27/2005 2:03 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9/27/2005 2:05 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

It is fascinating to see how ignorant an otherwise literate person can be. Yes, dope, poor people are still poor. The decision to cut taxes will not change that, either way. Other than those who are physically and/or mentally unable to support themselves, most people need to look to themselves to get out of poverty.

If you don’t understand how cutting taxes reduces economic disparity in this country, just admit it… don’t say that it is obvious that it does not. You always refer to me as an “I’ve got mine” guy. Well, dope, I ain’t got mine… yet. And, with the help of guilt-ridden neo-socialist voters like you, I may never. I am far from paying the top marginal tax rate, to be sure. But my employer is not. When the top marginal rate is cut, our firm’s net income goes up. Unlike your caricature of the wealthy, he will not use this increase to buy a Lexus or buy gold plated sticks with which he will beat poor people… he will use the increased total net income to determine what my bonus and profit sharing contribution will be. Do you see how trickle down economics work now?

When I get my bonus, I can afford a down payment on a new house so I can move out of the economically depressed area in which I live, where your vaunted “poor” keep setting up meth labs and stealing shit out of my car.

Also, it is none of your business how the rich got rich. How would you like it if I came to your house and made the determination that your car is too nice for what you actually produce for society? Whether or not someone can live without something is not a good enough reason to have the government take it away from them.

The best way out of poverty is to work. The best way to create jobs is to let the people who do the job creating keep more of the money they’ve earned so they can produce more.

Social Security doesn’t have any “profits”. The money doesn’t go to Wall Street firms; it stays with the person who earned it.

The ability to cost certain vehicles instead of capitalize them according to the MACRS table isn’t a tax break… it is the suspension of a tax penalty.

Yes, Bush admires dictatorships so much, he sends over our armies to destroy them.

The gulf between the rich and poor is vast because the rich are getting much much richer. The poor aren’t any poorer. And to suggest that someone who has managed to amass a $20 million estate hasn’t paid his fair share during his lifetime makes you not only a colossal ass yourself, but an extremely ignorant one.

 
At 9/27/2005 3:47 PM, Blogger HRC said...

Lyons is one of my all-time favorites since I discovered him. He and Conason were a great team; should do it again.

 
At 9/27/2005 3:57 PM, Blogger HRC said...

Señor Tonto says:
Other than those who are physically and/or mentally unable to support themselves, most people need to look to themselves to get out of poverty.

It is fascinating to see how ignorant some people can be.

Trickle down economics works like this:
I piss on your head and tell you to get out of the rain.

No, seriously, trickle down economics works like this:
Denny Hastert gets a big fat tax break and buys antique cars and tells the poor to work harder at getting a God Damned job.

 
At 9/27/2005 4:33 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

Again, if you don't understand trickle down economics... shut up about it. I give a concrete, real world example and you say something stupid like "piss on yer head... derr derr". Very worthless post. Why not pick your nose and post a scan of the booger. It would be more enlightening.

 
At 9/27/2005 4:34 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

Oh. And what exactly is ignorant about expecting able bodied people to provide for themselves?

 
At 9/27/2005 6:06 PM, Blogger diehard said...

Maybe you should tell George Bush about the honor of a hard day's work. Since he has never put in one!

 
At 9/27/2005 6:12 PM, Blogger Dave said...

diehard

You are fat, aren't you?

 
At 9/27/2005 7:51 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Dave you are a toad aren't ya?

Comon -- just cause you don't have a comeback you shove an insult. What kind of debate is that you ignorant child? Ah Dave, you never learn. Therefore you are a waste on this planet.

Hmmmm Dope. Tax breaks for hummers? That must explain why we now have a hummer dealer of our very own in the QCA.

 
At 9/27/2005 7:58 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Oh yeah folks. Don't ever forget that all Bush has left as of this moment is his small elite rich BASE of supporters and he does not want to piss them off at any cost.

AGain, screw the poor and the middle class - protect Bush's base - the richest of the rich. This is business as usual with Bush and Co.

 
At 9/27/2005 8:49 PM, Blogger Dave said...

no, I'm just trying to get a picture that's all really. So, you're overweight, right?

 
At 9/27/2005 10:29 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9/27/2005 10:37 PM, Blogger El Asso Whippo said...

George Bush has never put in a hard day's work?

Good one, diehard.... iron clad...

woo... uh... you got me there.

It's all... uh... so,uh, blindingly clear... years of economic reality notwithstanding... it's pretty hard to argue with that wicked sharp insight...

hard day's work... got me there...

How's the... uh... not knowing what the hell you're talking about going there? Good?

But, seriously.... good stuff... who'da thunk it... keep it up, diehard...


hard day's work... whatcha gonna do? gooood stuff.... hoo

 
At 10/01/2005 11:11 AM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

Badasssss

What kind of stuff ya smokin? No sentances make a bit of sense here.

 

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