Democratic Underground

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


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