The Tax Cut Is
About Who Is In Charge
by Dave Chandler
The legislative struggle for the soul of the nation is upon
us. The battle over the country's future has been engaged.
Average Americans will face a future of continued prosperity or a future
of stagflation and red ink depending upon what happens is Washington,
D.C. in the next several weeks.
Political moderates, progressives, liberals, and the Democratic Party
will either triumph or lapse into coma depending upon how much backbone
they have during the looming contest over tax cuts.
The choice between the Bush tax give away or a progressive alternative
really is that important. If Bush prevails it will be because the folks
who got the most votes in the last election could not find the fortitude
to stand and fight for justice. If progressives and Democrats win, it
will be because they have found the spirit to challenge the usurper and
take custody of America's destiny. If the Bush plan is enacted the rich
elitists win --- if a truly progress tax cut becomes law -- the people
-- will still be in charge.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus has helped draw the lines in this
battle by introducing the American People's Dividend tax relief proposal.
Unlike the Bush-Reagan throw-back scheme that will give 40 percent of
any tax cut to the wealthiest 1 percent, the People's Dividend plan is
remarkably fair and balanced -- the richest 1 percent get exactly 1 percent
of the tax relief.
U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, introduced
this proposition that would provide a refundable tax credit of $300 annually
to every man, woman, and child in America for ten years. But additionally,
this plan is fiscally responsible because it will protect our prosperity
by only taking effect if a federal government budget surplus actually
exists. Lacking such a fiscally responsible safeguard, the Bush recipe
drops us right back into deficits any time there is an economic stall.
The American People's Dividend means everyone in this country can participate
in the unprecedented prosperity we have enjoyed over the past eight years.
But you can already hear the radical Republicans and timid Democrats fretting
about the very idea of actually arranging an across the board tax cut
for rich and poor, young and old, liberal or conservative, business owner
or labor ... for everyone. The problem is that with a fair plan, wealthy
campaign contributors will not be getting more than their fair share --
so they won't owe the politicians anything ... horror of horrors! The
Republican angst over this consequences is understandable, they depend
on government largess to the rich as the payback for their campaign dollars.
But Democrats should not fall for the same ploy -- through the American
People's Dividend, they can fundamentally rearrange the political landscape
for a generation, like President Franklin Roosevelt did for average Americans
with the New Deal.
Still, I can already hear the Bush Republicans moaning about how this
plan is nothing more than a redistribution of the wealth from those who
pay the most taxes to those who pay little or no taxes, you know -- socialism.
Well, frankly, that argument is wearing a bit thin. Socialism is very
much in the eye of the beholder when it comes to tax dollars and politicians.
In my city of Denver, we are building the owner of the Broncos football
team a new stadium. We are taxing ourselves to provide a place for a 'private'
corporation to make millions of 'private' dollars ... that is a redistribution
of wealth from the poor to the super-rich. It seems thousands of free-enterprise
Republican football fans don't have any problem with this particular brand
of socialism. And as Paul Begala noted in his book Is Our Children Learning,
the current occupant of the White House is a practitioner of this very
same kind of 'socialism' himself. Begala writes: "Led by George W.
Bush, the Texas Rangers conned the good people of Arlington, Texas, into
raising their taxes to build Bush and his partners a stadium. The deal
is a curious blend of the worst of socialism and capitalism: the government
puts up the money, thereby socializing the downside risk, but Bush and
his cronies make the profit, thereby privatizing the upside reward."
Of course, there are countless examples of how the wealthy and powerful
in the United States are subsidized and underwritten by the taxpayers
of the country. Mr. Bush, himself, was also an oilman (albeit never a
profitable one), a player in an industry that reaps a huge handout from
the federal government under the guise of the "depletion allowance"
... in other words, oil corporations don't have to pay their fair share
of taxes because the oil is getting used up ... "socializing the
downside risk" again.
So this objection that the American People's Dividend is 'socialism'
is just another verse of the same old tired song from the radical right
that goes something like, "When it's a tax break for me, it's capitalism
... When it's for you, it's socialism."
Furthermore, it is time for average taxpayers to benefit from the Clinton
budget surpluses. Make no mistake, the wealthiest Americans have done
very well indeed during the Clinton years -- even after the 1993 tax increase
passed by only Democrats in Congress (that got our government financial
house in order). In 1992 the top 1 percent's after tax income averaged
$398,000. In 1997 -- with the tax increase in effect for four years, the
richest 1 percent had after tax income of $518,000. These are the folks
who need so much tax relief under the Bush plan?
The American People's Dividend is a battle plan for the agenda that won
the 2000 presidential election. It is a newer, updated version of the
targeted tax cuts proposed by the winner of the popular vote for president,
Al Gore. It can be part of a strategy that does justice for the American
people and reminds the Supreme Court coup enablers, the presidential usurper,
and the Republican radicals that -- the people -- are still in charge
of this country.
Tell your U.S. Senator and Representative to support the American Dividend
plan and e-mail U.S. Representative Sanders and offer your encouragement
Dave Chandler lives in Arvada, Colorado. He is publisher of the environmental
and political web site earthside.com.