If you work for a living in George W. Bush's America, you're a sap.

  1. Rewarding Wealth, Discouraging Its Creation
    by Harold Meyerson
    First published by the Washington Post January 14, 2004

    Editors' Note: When addressing economic issues, we usually seek articles that avoid highly partisan perspectives and Mr. Meyerson is much too focused on Bush and too easy on Congress for the disgraces he critiques. But his compelling argument, summing up the pathology of rewarding inheritance and investment income while punishing work, is a worthy read.
    Skeptics might note that even the editor of Forbes Magazine, in its annual "400 Richest People in America," wrote "I'm not for soaking the rich in general, just for soaking the ones who aren't paying much now."

    If you work for a living in George W. Bush's America, you're a sap.

    Take a quick look, or a long one, at the tax code as Bush has altered it during his three years as president, and you're compelled to conclude that work has become a distinctly inferior kind of income acquisition in the eyes of the law. Bush tax policy rewards investment and inheritance. Relying on work for your income, by contrast, turns you into a second-class citizen.

    In his first round of tax cuts in 2001, Bush got Congress to phase out the estate tax by 2010. Last year, with Republicans in control on Capitol Hill, he reduced the top tax rate on dividends from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, and brought the capital gains tax rate down from 20 percent to 15 percent as well.

    This year, his new budget proposes that families be allowed to shield as much as $30,000 yearly on their investment income, which will abolish all remaining taxes on such income. Meanwhile, the income tax cuts to most middle-class families don't exceed a couple of hundred dollars, and payroll taxes for employees remain untouched. In part, this devaluing of work is simply an expression of Bush family values. As Kevin Phillips points out in his new biography of the Bush dynasty, the Bushes don't do anything so vulgar as going into professions. Rather, the clan lives by its connections. For George W. and his brothers, work has meant riffling through Pappy's Rolodex. Theirs is the cronyest form of capitalism.

    But a broader theory is at work here, too. It says that investment, rather than labor, powers economic growth, so rewarding investment is merely the most direct way to help the economy. As Ernest S. Christian, a former Treasury official in the Reagan administration, recently told The Post's Jonathan Weisman, the tax reform proposals advanced by the Democratic presidential candidates -- most of which restore some of the taxes on investment and cut the tax rates for work-derived income -- won't do the economy any good. "Tax reform is supposed to mean removing barriers to economic growth," Christian said.

    A lovely theory, but if anyone thinks the Bush tax cuts have spurred economic growth, I have a low-tax investment in a bridge to Brooklyn. To be sure, investment income and corporate profits are high. But just 278,000 new jobs have been generated since June, which means the recovery is about 7.5 million jobs shy of the norm for post-World War II recoveries. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers had predicted job growth of 510,000 from the 2003 tax cuts, plus another 1,335,000 new jobs, during the second half of last year.

    To say that reality is lagging behind the theory of investment-led growth, then, is to understate. The problem is that to invest today in stocks or mutual funds doesn't mean you're investing in job creation in the United States.

    Outsourcing has turned the phrase "investment-led growth" into the grimmest of oxymorons. It means that Bush's tax policy subsidizes job growth in India and China rather than the United States. And in failing to create more employment here at home, the tax cuts have also helped depress wages. Real wages in the United States actually fell 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

    To all this, the Democratic presidential candidates have proposed a reversal of the Bush tax priorities. John Edwards is the most explicit, calling for an increase in taxes on most forms of investment income while lowering the taxes on employment. Wesley Clark has proposed eliminating income taxes for more than half the households in the United States, and Howard Dean is reportedly mulling over a plan to cut payroll taxes.

    All that is good in itself, but doesn't really grapple with the conundrum of job creation in a globalized economy. This afternoon a broad array of unions, environmental groups and Democratic politicos will unveil a proposal to do just that. Treming itself a new Apollo Project, this Teamster-Turtle coalition calls for using tax credits and public investment, totaling $300 billion over a 10-year period, to promote energy independence by investing in clean energy sources and in energy-efficient public and private transportation systems, office buildings, factories and homes. They calculate this will create 3.3 million jobs, which is a good deal more than President Bush's own neo-Apollo Project, sending men to the moon and to Mars, could possibly create (not to mention the benefits to national security that would accrue from reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil).

    The notion of job creation through public investment rather than private is anathema to conservatives, of course. But the burden of proof is on those on the right to demonstrate how private investment in a global economy creates jobs here at home. And why the hell our tax policy should boost income in Bangalore, not Baltimore.

    2004 Washington Post

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Apr 16, '05
    •  
  2. 44 Comments

  3. by   Mkue
    If you work for a living in George W. Bush's America, you're a sap.
    crybaby
  4. by   fab4fan
    The "theory" that giving the wealthy incentives will cause some sort of "trickle down" effect has been tried before, and it didn't work then, either. The rich are going to hold on to what they have; they couldn't care less that the middle-class is bankrolling them.

    Thanks for posting the article, Tweety. (Not at all surprised at the "sympathetic" response it got. "I'm doing OK, so nuts to you.")
  5. by   Thunderwolf
    Hope the new pres in 2006 does a better job for the middle class...certainly can't do no worse...well, maybe if one of Bush's boys becomes Pres or if California Arnie does if the laws change...but, that's whole different can of worms. In 2006, hopefully we can all get a new breath of fresh air and get our country back on track. As an American, pretty sick and tired funding some other country's GNP or fattening the wallets of Corporate leaders portfolios when they outsource our jobs overseas...governmental hypocracy and double speak gets my goat. We need a Pres who is INVESTED in OUR common American people and their needs...not his own retirement plan or the bankroll of his dynasty when stepping out of office. God, where is Honest Abe when you need him the most?

    Great article, Tweety.
  6. by   Mkue
    what have the Democrats done for the middle and lower class? my opinion is that they've created a greater dependency to these classes.. such as "what can you do for me", "you aren't doing enough for me", "whoah is me, all my problems are r/t the gov't".. boohoo. Republicans come along and actually recognize hard work and good fortune and Democrats don't like it.
  7. by   fab4fan
    Recall welfare reform? Under whose watch were those changes made? When people in the middle-class are having to work two and three jobs just to get by, that is not a "reward." And there have been many studies that have shown that it is the middle-class that is shouldering the majority of the tax burden.
  8. by   Tweety
    Quote from Mkue
    what have the Democrats done for the middle and lower class? my opinion is that they've created a greater dependency to these classes.. such as "what can you do for me", "you aren't doing enough for me", "whoah is me, all my problems are r/t the gov't".. boohoo. Republicans come along and actually recognize hard work and good fortune and Democrats don't like it.

    As Fab4 states, what we are addressing here are the "working class" people, not those on welfare.

    The stock market right now is shakey, gas prices are on the rise, unemployment may be on the rise, inflation may soon follow. If things get a little shakey for working class republicans lets see how many of you don't blame the government (and I'll be singing "who's crying now?").
  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    Our duty to the poor is clear in the scriptures; if you oppress the poor you will come to spiritual poverty yourself. The Lord Himself will plead the cause of the poor and take the life of those who rob them. The person who gives to the poor shall be repaid and never want for anything, but shut your eyes to the poor and you will incur only God's wrath now and at the time of judgment. We must remember that when we are gracious to the poor we are really lending to the Lord and God will repay us either in material riches or spiritual ones.

    The poor man does not always have it so bad. A poor man with understanding can see right through the rich man with no trouble. A poor man can have much spiritual wealth and be much happier than the rich man. Certainly it is better to have very little in worldly goods and fear the Lord, than to be very rich and live in turmoil. Money is not the root of all evil but the love of money is. The true saints are those who see Jesus in the eyes of the poor and show liberality to all. Feed the hungry, cloth the naked; house the homeless because this is where Jesus is. Jesus wants us to visit Him and he has no place to lay his head.
    [185, 319, 372, 388, Proverbs]
  10. by   pickledpepperRN
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05105/488565.stm

    200 groups lobbying to protect family leave act
    Friday, April 15, 2005
    By Karen MacPherson, Post-Gazette National Bureau

    WASHINGTON -- More than 200 state and national groups yesterday urged federal officials to reject an effort by business organizations that they contend would weaken key protections of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

    In a letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, the groups -- representing women, minorities, labor and senior citizens -- said the proposed changes would "roll back" the protections provided by the 12-year-old act by denying millions of American workers the ability to take time off for their own illness or that of a family member.

    The law allows workers to take as much as 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child, or for their own illness or that of a family member, while protecting their jobs.

    The groups fear that changes sought by business groups would restrict the kinds of medical conditions covered by the law as well as force employees to take "intermittent leave" for such concerns as chemotherapy in larger chunks of time than they need, using up their allotted annual leave too quickly.

    Such changes "would have a devastating impact on American families," Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said at a news conference yesterday. "They would make it harder for people to take advantage of the law and to use the protection of the law."

    Linda Meric, head of the national group known as 9to5 that champions economic justice for women, said: "At the same time that big-business groups are attempting to lessen workers' access to [the law's provisions], the greatest problem we've seen is that millions of workers aren't covered by it," because companies governed by the law must have 50 or more employees.

    Department of Labor statistics show that about 60 percent of workers are covered by the act, known by the acronym FMLA.

    But business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, say it's clear that some changes are needed in the law's provisions to help employers deal with workers who use its job protection as cover for their chronic tardiness or absenteeism.

    Particularly problematic are what business groups consider the act's overly vague definition of a "serious medical condition" as well as a provision involving "intermittent leave," which business officials said can amount to just 10 minutes in some instances.
    "We've now got 10 years of experience with these regulations," said Michael Eastman, the chamber's director of labor law policy. "There are a few parts of them that have made it very difficult for employers to combat the minority of employees -- but a significant minority -- who are abusing the law."

    Because of a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Labor Department must change one part of the FMLA dealing with the notice that employers must give workers about how they are implementing the law. It is uncertain when the department will respond to the Supreme Court ruling, and whether it will also use the opportunity to deal with other issues affecting the act.

    "No final decisions have been made," said Victoria Lipnic, assistant U.S. labor secretary for employment standards.

    More than 50 million Americans have taken job-protected leave under the FMLA since 1993, according to a Labor Department survey in 2002, the most recent statistics available. The majority of those people --52 percent -- used the leave because of their own serious illness, while 31 percent used it to care for a seriously ill family member. The rest used the leave to care for a new child.

    Of those who used the leave for illness, half were off work for 10 days or fewer, according to the department survey. More women (58 percent) than men (42 percent) have used the FMLA.
  11. by   Mkue
    Quote from Tweety
    As Fab4 states, what we are addressing here are the "working class" people, not those on welfare.

    The stock market right now is shakey, gas prices are on the rise, unemployment may be on the rise, inflation may soon follow. If things get a little shakey for working class republicans lets see how many of you don't blame the government (and I'll be singing "who's crying now?").
    I was referring to working class.. I'm hearing more and more comments by working class ppl blaming our gov't for their problems, wanting something for nothing, expecting & feeling deserving of a break because we work hard for our money..etc.

    We (the working middle class) are honest, we work hard, sometimes 2 jobs and we are the backbone of this country. We are the most vulnerable when prices go UP and it doesn't matter who the President is or what party.
  12. by   UM Review RN
    Quote from Mkue
    wanting something for nothing

    Excuse me?

    I'm paying through the nose for responsible government.

    All I've heard from Bush is excuses.

    I challenge anyone who thinks Bush is so great for the working people, to cite examples of how he's saved us money or how he's helped us to make money.
  13. by   mercyteapot
    Quote from Mkue
    what have the Democrats done for the middle and lower class? my opinion is that they've created a greater dependency to these classes.. such as "what can you do for me", "you aren't doing enough for me", "whoah is me, all my problems are r/t the gov't".. boohoo. Republicans come along and actually recognize hard work and good fortune and Democrats don't like it.
    What does that have to do with the article that Tweety posted? There isn't mention of the chronic "whiners" in that article, and we really shouldn't be using this unfortunate personality trait to determine the tax code for the rest of America. There will be some people who expect the govt to take care of them. When hard working Americans buy into the notion that these people can be used to justify the tax incentives given to the wealthy at the expense of the working man ("working class" is such a vague concept), it hurts everyone except the rich.
  14. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Republicans come along and actually recognize hard work and good fortune and Democrats don't like it
    Ah, i have a problem with generalized statements like this. You cannot make a group look like the better party by putting down an opponent. Beside, i really do not see what that has to do with the article, either.

close