Favorite

Bush's war on the poor 

After an uninterrupted string of victories, President Bush’s magnificent war seems to have turned the corner. If it were not for one small insurgency, 2005 might be the year that he could claim final victory. Not in Iraq. I’m talking about the undeclared war on the middle class and poor. But war nomenclature always gets you in trouble — should it be the Civil War or the War Between the States? This one is more aptly called the War to Unfetter the Rich and the Big Corporations. The president is losing out in the battle to destroy the retirement security of middle-class workers, but look at what else the Republican Congress has done for him on other fronts in three months. Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act, commonly known as tort reform, which makes it harder for consumers and victims of other corporate abuses to get relief in the courts, partly by shunting suits from state courts to logjammed federal courts where Republican judges predominate. They accomplished it by demonizing trial lawyers and claiming that legislation was needed to restrain not the victims of abuse or neglect but rapacious lawyers who drowned court dockets with frivolous suits by representing them. Overlooked in the debate were the facts. Businesses, not individuals and trial lawyers, are the big users of the courts —20,868 suits by businesses vs. 4,786 filed for individuals in Arkansas in 2001, according to one study — and businesses are far more prone than trial lawyers to be punished by federal courts for frivolous suits. Then Congress whooped through the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, written by credit-card companies and big banks and backed by Bush, which makes it much harder for middle-class people to get a fresh start after filing for bankruptcy. Republicans passed the bill in both houses after defeating amendments that got to the root of the increase in bankruptcy filings. The amendments would have forced lenders to cut fees and expand disclosures to consumers, and curtailed the aggressive marketing tactics of banks and credit card companies and the corrupt bankruptcy practices of corporations like Enron. The object of the bills, the leadership reminded, was families, not corporations. Half of all bankruptcies are the result of catastrophic medical bills and job losses, but the credit card companies and big banks had invested $101 million in federal candidates and political parties in six years, and it was no time for lawmakers to go wobbly on them. Next, the Senate tackled another goal of the president, helping high-income retirees, who had been paying slightly higher taxes since 1993 to stabilize Medicare. The Social Security relief act will significantly raise the take-home benefits of the wealthiest class of beneficiaries, those with incomes greater than $100,000 a year, and speed the bankruptcy of Medicare. Here’s what the bill will do for retirees in Arkansas as soon as the House of Representatives sends it to the president. Arkansans with incomes higher than $100,000 a year will get 37 percent of the increased benefits, those with annual incomes below $40,000 a year none of them. People with incomes higher than $200,000 will receive an average of $2,978 a year. If you earn that much $2,978 is a drop in the bucket, but it’s the gesture that counts. Finally, the House of Representatives last week voted to end the estate tax forever, a major priority of the president. If enacted, it will leave trillions of dollars of income by the richest Americans altogether untaxed and add $1 trillion to the national debt by 2021. The United States has taxed great inheritances for a hundred years but a media consultant came up with the name “death tax” in the 1990s and Americans were persuaded that the pittances they would leave to their widows and children would be confiscated by a new tax. Fewer than 2 percent of estates ever pay any tax and the effective tax rate for estates larger than $20 million was only 16.5 percent for 2003, the last year for which the Internal Revenue Service has figures. That is considerably less than the cumulative tax rate that every working American pays on income they actually earn by their labor. Arkansas’s congressional delegation, all except Rep. Vic Snyder, spouted the same foolishness, that the tax shut down family farms and small businesses and that it amounted to double taxation. Rep. Mike Ross said it was wrong to tax the same income twice, once when it was earned and again by the heirs. But most of the value of large estates, according to the IRS, is unrealized capital gains. If it is not taxed when it is distributed to heirs, it is never taxed at all. But that, after all, is Bush’s major objective, to end taxation altogether on income from investments and to tax only income from labor. Meantime, the House of Representatives moves ahead with the president’s goal of scaling back the earned income tax credit for the working poor and making health care, nutritional aid and energy and housing assistance scarcer. A few more victories and the president can truly claim, “Mission Accomplished.” The White House has already ordered the banners.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Real history

    Arkansas is in the midst of a tranquil acknowledgment of some of its barbarous history and it is too bad that only a sentimental few, not all of us, are involved. The renewed ardor for the Confederacy, its battle flag and memorial statues and for those who led the revolt against the United States in 1860 seems to offer a chance. Let's seize it.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • Happy at defeat

    After all the hydra heads of Trumpcare had been chopped off in one roll call after another, the Affordable Care Act and the health care system still lay in peril this week, subject to the whims of a vindictive president.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • Real history

    Arkansas is in the midst of a tranquil acknowledgment of some of its barbarous history and it is too bad that only a sentimental few, not all of us, are involved. The renewed ardor for the Confederacy, its battle flag and memorial statues and for those who led the revolt against the United States in 1860 seems to offer a chance. Let's seize it.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • Happy at defeat

    After all the hydra heads of Trumpcare had been chopped off in one roll call after another, the Affordable Care Act and the health care system still lay in peril this week, subject to the whims of a vindictive president.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

August

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Fake history

    If your precious "Southern heritage" includes swastikas, you may as well quit reading right here. But odds are astronomically high that it doesn't. The vast majority of Southerners are as repelled by those goons as everybody else.
  • Real history

    Arkansas is in the midst of a tranquil acknowledgment of some of its barbarous history and it is too bad that only a sentimental few, not all of us, are involved. The renewed ardor for the Confederacy, its battle flag and memorial statues and for those who led the revolt against the United States in 1860 seems to offer a chance. Let's seize it.
  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
  • Solving Dems' Pelosi problem

    For the good of her party and the ideals for which she has fought so effectively, it is time for U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to announce she will not serve as speaker if the Democrats retake control of the House in 2018.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Charter secret

    • Mike and Max, do not see the difference between the two. Both talk out of…

    • on August 23, 2017
  • Re: Charter secret

    • Well, runner, you can thank Mike Huckabee for shutting down small schools. The original bill…

    • on August 23, 2017
  • Re: Home is where the hatred is

    • I always like to get your take on how things are going in the Northwest…

    • on August 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation