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January, 2003

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Upper Class Warfare

Talk about Robin Hood in reverse, the Bush Administration tax proposals really take the cake - literally. Don't take my word for it, check out this analysis done by a Brookings Institution economist (requires Acrobat Reader, Warning - contains many charts and graphs).

Things looked so good just a few years ago. The debt clock in New York was shut off (it just didn't have the same effect running backwards) and the Concorde Coalition was looking for other things to do. Now, just two years into a Republican budgeting cycle and the Clinton surpluses are long gone. Not only do we have deficits as far as the eye can see, but the Bush Administration is proposing changes to the tax code that will cost an additional $670 billion ($300 billion of that goes to making dividends tax free). The debt clock is back, with a vengeance. No surprise, most of the tax cut benefits go to the well-off. But the real kicker is in the fiscal impact of these proposals on the rest of us.

You see, $300 billion is the figure usually thrown out as what it would take to "fix" Social Security. The Administration would rather give that money as a bonus to stockholders than to make sure future retirees have Social Security to rely upon. Worse, because the U.S. Treasury is already borrowing against the existing Social Security surplus, the newly proposed $600 billion in red ink can be added to hole we have to climb out of before that money comes back for current workers' retirements. (Theoretically, that problem could be solved by cutting spending, but the Republicans haven't actually suggested cutting any particular progams.) Worse, another $200 billion is added by the cost of carrying all that debt. So that hole will only be filled by increasing the tax burden on somebody. Want to guess who?

So let's see, you shift the burden of taxation to the middle class, while the deserving rich get a free ride. And they have the audacity to claim that complaining about this is "class warfare." The Bush tax proposals amount to carpet bombing the economic well being of average Americans. That's upper class warfare.


  

Michael Lewis
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