Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The War Tax

Once again, the news carries things I wouldn't dare to make up.

Some leading members of the House Appropriations Committee today suggested refusing to fund the President's $200 billion continuing appropriation for the Iraq war, and recommended a war tax to fund the combat operations. This is so appropriate, and so reasonable, that I'm appalled to find Nancy Pelosi shutting it down. I'm even more appalled to hear the Republicans yelling "tax-and-spend-Democrats, nya nya nyaaa!" The Republican party is in the process of bankrupting this country on this stupid war, but God forbid we should raise taxes to pay for it.

Do these people have any idea how long we're going to be paying for this asinine war?? Worse, do they realize who's holding the Treasury bills that are allowing us to continue it? (Hint: it's China....)

And in the same week, the most spendthrift president in history, outdoing even Ronald Reagan, chooses to show his fiscal conservatism by vetoing - health care for poor children! After all, they will never vote Republican, especially if they have no health care (since they will likely die before they can vote). 72% of the country was in favor of expanding the SCHIP program, not to the "middle class" (as Boss Bush suggests), but (in some places) to people who make 300% of the official poverty level (a whacking 50% increase, it was 200%).

Do you know what the poverty level is? Dubya doesn't. It's $20,650 per year for a family of four. (And, I may add, it's the same in California as it is in South Dakota. Only Alaska and Hawaii get higher rates.) So right now people who make up to $41,300 to support a family of four can get this coverage; and the vetoed bill would have expanded it in some places to people who make $61,950. You try to support four people in the San Francisco Bay Area on $62,000 a year. That's $5,162 per month in a place where 4 bedroom houses can rent for as much as $4,600! OK, that's a "lovely 2 story executive" something in Saratoga, a known high-rent district; but a quick glance at shows that a 3 bedroom anything (minimum for a family of 4) rents for $2000 and up. (I'm not a member - I Googled "4 bedroom apartment san francisco.") There are cheaper ones, but I hesitate to think what the neighborhood looks like.

That's almost 40% of the monthly income at a generous 300% of the poverty level, and we haven't started talking about utilities and food yet. Does the SCHIP extension begin to look a little less unreasonable?? Oh, sorry, I forgot - you're probably in favor of it.

It looks like Congress may be cranking up for an override vote, and you know, if they can override this veto, I may forgive them blowing off the war tax. Would be better if they could do both, of course.


  1. Anonymous9:37 PM

    Never ceases to amaze me that such reasonable proposals can elicit such pathetic responses. A major shout out and thank you to David Obey (John Edwards' campaign manager).

    Anonymous, Perplexed but not Surprised, David

  2. Well, I wish we simply hadn't invaded in the first place, and hadn't passed all those disastrous tax cuts for the rich. As anyone knows who's studied the state and federal taxation systems, the middle class has steadily been losing ground to the rich and the corporations. Compare "upper class" and corporate tax burdens as a percentage of the total revenues since 1960, and you'll see that the lower 7/8's of Americans now pay roughly 15% more of the total tab now than they did then. Despite this titanic shift, the Republicans continue to carp about "Robin Hood wealth distribution" when in reality what we have--in Gore Vidal's delightful coinage--is "laissez-faire capitalism for the poor, and welfare for the rich."

    I think taxes are high enough already, thank you. Also, I worked for the Social Security Adminstration for 27 years, so I know that the Retirement & Survivors Trust Fund is NOT in trouble, and we don't need to privatize it anytime soon. The bad side of the report is that the Congress reached in and spent the deposits in that trust fund many years ago, so its contents contain only (you guessed it) promissory notes, based on that old "full faith and confidence" bullshit, IOW pay later. The other neat little accounting trick they did was "include" the SS trust fund revenues and obligations inside the "total Federal budget"--in order to make it seem that the "deficit" in the trust fund was chargeable against the real deficit (thank you very much), and to make it seem as if "entitlements" which now includes "insured" benefits right alongside GT "welfare" benefits were bloating the country's debt. The GT (general treasury) budget is in enough trouble as it is, without artificially inflating it with phony debt figures. This is then used to publicize the "dire condition" not only of the GT but the SS trust fund. In reality, the SS is in terrific shape until about 2030, and only very minute adjustments in the tax and benefits rates would be needed to keep it healthy. Dubya and his cronies would like to fool you into thinking the "system is in trouble" but it's not--that's a lie to convince you to privatize the system, so the rich can opt out in favor of straight-line investment, and the poor can bloody well get a cup and stand in the street.

    In any case--sorry about the segue--we had a balanced budged under Clinton. It wasn't really the result of what he did do, but what he didn't (spend wildly) that brought that about (as well as some convenient technology industry inventions--also known as the dot-com boom). The Republicans couldn't stand that--they knew the fastest way to a corporate contribution was a juicy tax break, so that's exactly what they did.

    Our old creditors used to be the Saudis, but now it's China (bless their hearts). They'll hollow out our manufacturing and raw materials heart before killing us dead with price wars. Very patient, those Chinese. Do you suppose it was their eye on the Arabian Peninsula oil that got this whole Middle East thing going? You'd be right.

    Funny how everything connects. Follow the money.

  3. Anonymous9:27 PM

    Dead on, Curtis. I first learned about the realities of SS from my then-congressman Buddy MacKay when I was the faculty sponsor of the Lake-Sumter Community College Young Democrats. He came to the college a presented a workshop on various issues, including SS. The man was the genuine article, a congressman the founders envisioned - an informed, intelligent, rational representative for the common good.
    His successor, thanks to the Republican unenlightenment of Florida, is Cliff Stearns.

    Anonymous David