4.15.2005

Delay Says YOU Don't Have A Right to Privacy

Lots of folks pointing this out... we just want to make sure it spreads even further.

In his interveiw with the Washington Times (yes, the one owned by the 'Rev.' Moon), Delay says that the Courts (whom he hates) just made up the right to privacy we all seem to cherish so much.

Mr. Dinan: You've been talking about going after activist judges since at least 1997. The [Terri] Schiavo case gives you a chance to do that, but you've recently said you blame Congress for not being zealous in oversight.
Mr. DeLay: Not zealous. I blame Congress over the last 50 to 100 years for not standing up and taking its responsibility given to it by the Constitution. The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that's nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn't stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn't stop them.
(emphasis is ours)

How is that for weird? No, we don't think he mis-spoke: we think this is how he actually feels. Tom "I am the Federal Government" Delay sees 2 kinds of folk: those in control and the rabble... and the American people are just rabble to him.

4.14.2005

Congress... Still Sticking It To Working Americans

Wow. Even the AP can't hide the pro-business-ness of the "bankruptcy bill" (more like the 'keep folks bankrupt bill')

Tens of thousands of people who want to wipe out their debts in bankruptcy court would have to work out repayment plans instead under legislation Congress approved Thursday.

A 302-126 vote by the House sent the legislation to President Bush, who is eager to sign it, the biggest rewrite of the bankruptcy code in a quarter-century. It marks the second major change in law to benefit business since Republicans increased their House and Senate majorities in last fall's elections.
That's it America: keep voting against your own self-interest and enabling these folks to doing the bidding of business and the uber-wealthy. Congress' contempt (and I don't single out Republicans since a number of Democrats have joined in) for the working class that made this country great apparently knows no bounds.

"Well at least the homos can't marry."

...

1 More Reason to Keep the Estate Tax

Frank Luntz wants you to call it the 'death tax' and so many Americans do even when it won't ever be applied to them or their families, but here's one more good reason to get rid of it: the Wal-Mart folks hate it. Yes, that's right: if being sick of Paris Hilton wasn't enough, look how the Wal(-Mart)tons have been pushing for it...

Now, in a little-noticed move, the company's founding family has plunged into a fight to pass income tax changes and other legislation that could preserve its grip on the USA's biggest business and the family's $84 billion fortune.

Led by Sam Walton's only daughter, Alice, the family spent $3.2 million on lobbying, conservative causes and candidates for last year's federal elections. That's more than double what it spent in the previous two elections combined, public documents show.

The Waltons have joined a coterie of wealthy families trying to save fortunes through permanent repeal of the estate tax, government watchdogs say. The election of President Bush and more conservatives to Congress gave momentum to the long-fought effort. The Waltons add more.

"To see the wealthiest family in America weighing in is scary," says Chuck Collins, co-founder of Responsible Wealth, a non-profit group that tracks the super-rich.

[snip]

The Walton support for Bush and other fiscal conservatives assumed new urgency last month when Wal-Mart sweetened its dividend — boosting Walton dividend income above $1 billion a year. Bush's dividend tax cut, enacted two years ago and set to expire in 2009, will save the family as much as $51 million this year.

The growing Walton political prowess is a departure from patriarch "Mr. Sam," who disliked politics. Moreover, their largesse isn't limited to the national stage. In 2002-2004, the family gave $879,000 to state campaigns from California to Florida, says the Institute on Money in State Politics. The biggest gift, $250,000, went to the Republican Party of Florida, whose titular head is Bush's brother, Gov. Jeb Bush.
Remember folks: you should never, EVER, shop at Wal-Mart because they almost single-handedly keep American wages down.

Lots more online from the Philly Daily News (we used to live in Philly! YAY Cheesesteaks!) about Rick Santorum and his unusually close relationship with Wal-mart and his disintegrating one with Pennsylvania... Read & think for yourselves.

Why the Bush Admin Loves the Weak Dollar

NPR is doing a 3 day series on the weak dollar... We liked the description of the Bush Administrations attitude toward the dollar as one of benign neglect. Remember they just announced that the U.S. trade deficit is getting bigger and bigger all the time and setting records.

But at least it looks like poor heiress/porn star Paris Hilton is gonna get her ENORMOUS tax cut! Remember: don't call it the 'death tax'... it's the 'Paris Hilton Tax Break'!

4.13.2005

the Paris Hilton Tax Cut

MyDD does the work, we just link to it... looks like the Paris Hilton Tax Cut is about to go through in the House. Yay for Paris!! we've been really worried about poor Paris. Really, she just doesn't have a fabulous enough life jet-setting around the world, going to parties, and not having to do anything... except inadvertantly end up in porn. This way we know that she'll be ok for like forever!

We just wish we had health-care and and didn't worry about losing our jobs.

The End of the American Century?

India, China Hoping to 'Reshape the World Order' Together
Look, we're not slagging India & China. We're not claiming that the US should always be dominant... but why are the American Government & American Businesses helping?

India and China announced a new "strategic partnership" Monday, pledging to resolve long-standing border disputes and boost trade and economic cooperation between two rising powers that together account for more than a third of the world's population.

[snip]

The prospect of a more cooperative relationship has significant global implications, given the vast economic potential of India and China and their voracious appetites for energy and other natural resources.

[snip]

In geopolitical terms, the consequences of a rapprochement between the world's two most populous countries could be profound. "In the same way that commentators refer to the 1900s as the American Century, the early 21st century may be seen as the time when some in the developing world, led by India and China, come into their own," said a December 2004 study by the U.S. National Intelligence Council.

Such "arriviste" powers, the study noted, "could usher in a new set of international alignments, potentially marking a definitive break with some of the post-World War II institutions and practices." The report also said that India "could emerge as the world's fastest-growing economy" by 2020, overtaking China.

In pursuing closer ties, each country is clearly eager to capitalize on the other's economic strengths -- manufacturing and computer hardware in China, services and software in India -- while boosting trade that by all accounts has remained far below its potential. Last year, trade between the two countries came to $13.6 billion, compared with about $20 billion between India and the United States. India and China pledged Monday to boost their trade to $20 billion by 2008.

"If India and China cooperate in the IT industry, we will be able to lead the world," Wen said in Bangalore on Sunday. "It will signify the coming of the Asian century in the IT industry."

Remember: we're running deficits - HUGE ones fueled by the Bush 'tax cuts' and the wars - and China is assuming more and more of our debt. Is this a good thing? That the next viable Economic Super-Power is holding the keys to our kingdom?

Help Save the Bazillionaires of America

The Right-Wing Way: Making Life Easier for Millionaires
More about the difference between you and the wealthy... and it is pretty UNAmerican:

With projected deficits of $2 trillion over the next ten years, health care costs soaring and tens of thousands of U.S. troops fighting abroad without adequate equipment, what is on the agenda of the House of Representatives today? Permanent repeal of the estate tax for the 30,627 wealthiest Americans who actually paid the tax last year.
Wait, wait: what's on Bush's iPod? Did Michael Jackson really touch those little boys? What about Britney Spears being pregnant? And who will be eliminated from American Idol tonight? Aren't these things more important than silly old deficits or how much the wealthy pay in taxes?

They don't want you paying attention folks: they don't want you paying attention.

4.12.2005

Help Save the Millionaires of America

Tax time for most of us doesn't mean the same thing for the wealthy. Lots of stuff here about how the middle class is getting screwed.

First up, the The Paris Hilton Tax Cut...

The same people who insist that critics of Social Security privatization should offer reform proposals of their own are working feverishly to eliminate alternatives that might reduce the need for benefit cuts or payroll tax increases.

I refer to the fact that House Republican leaders have scheduled a vote this week to abolish the estate tax permanently. Under a wacky provision of the 2001 tax cut designed to disguise the law's full cost, Congress voted to make the estate tax go away in 2010, but come back in full force in 2011.

With so many other taxes around, it's hard to understand why this is the one Congress would repeal. It falls, in effect, on the heirs to the wealthiest Americans. Fewer than 1 percent of the people who died in 2004 paid an estate tax, and half the revenue from the tax came from estates valued at $10 million or more.

Yet, because the wealthy have gotten wealthier over the past three decades or so, the estate tax produces a lot of money. Counting both revenue losses and added interest costs, complete repeal of the estate tax would cost the government close to $1 trillion between 2012 and 2021, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

[snip]

The Friends of Paris Hilton realize that as federal deficits mount and rising Medicare costs loom, the case for the total repeal of the estate tax grows steadily weaker. That's why they're hoping they can sucker defenders of estate taxes into a so-called compromise that gives away the store -- the store, in this case, going to Neiman-Marcus shoppers, not to those who rely on Target.

This is an instructive moment. What we are having is not a real debate on the future of Social Security but a sham discussion in which the one issue that matters to the governing majority is how to keep cutting taxes on the wealthiest people in our country.

Those who vote to repeal the estate tax this week will be sending a clear message: They see the "crisis" in Social Security as serious enough to justify benefit cuts and private accounts. But it's not serious enough to warrant a minor inconvenience to those who plan to live on their parents' wealth.

Oh E.J., if Terry Neal weren't our man at the Post right now you might be getting more of our attention... thanks for these thoughts (and more).

But where does this NEED to save our bazillionaires more and more $$$???

Well it turns out that Jonathan Weisman at the post has a few answers:

In 1992, when heirs to the Mars Inc. fortune joined a few other wealthy families to hire the law firm Patton Boggs LLP to lobby for estate tax repeal, the joke on K Street was that few Washington sightseers had paid so much for a fruitless tour of the Capitol.

Today, the House is expected to vote to permanently repeal the estate tax, moving the Mars candy, Gallo wine and Campbell soup fortunes one step closer to a goal that once seemed quixotic at best: ending all taxation on inheritances.

[snip]

Last month, Graetz and Yale political scientist Ian Shapiro published "Death By A Thousand Cuts," chronicling the estate tax repeal movement as "a mystery about politics and persuasion."

"For almost a century, the estate tax affected only the richest 1 or 2 percent of citizens, encouraged charity, and placed no burden on the vast majority of Americans," they wrote. "A law that constituted the blandest kind of common sense for most of the twentieth century was transformed, in the space of little more than a decade, into the supposed enemy of hardworking citizens all over this country."

The secret of the repeal movement's success has been its appeal to principle over economics. While repeal opponents bellowed that only the richest of the rich would ever pay the estate tax, proponents appealed to Americans' sense of fairness, that individuals have the natural right to pass on their wealth to their children.

In other words the children & grandchildren of the wealthy are selfish and are taking you, and your representatives, for suckers.

And it's working! Yes, they got you with that bastard Frank Luntz came up with the whole "death-tax" bit. Well you folks thought that you were saving small business, but you weren't: you were just helping Paris Hilton. HAHA Hilarious! Don't believe us?
The most recent Internal Revenue Service data back opponents' claims. In 2001, out of 2,363,100 total adult deaths, only 49,911 -- 2.1 percent -- had estates large enough to be hit by the estate tax. That was down from 2.3 percent in 1999. The value of the taxed estates in 2001 averaged nearly $2.7 million.

Congressional action since 2001 will likely bring down the number of taxable estates still further. President Bush's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001 began a decade-long phase-out of the estate tax. The portion of an estate exempted from taxation was raised from $675,000 in 2001 to $1.5 million in 2004. Next year, the exemption will rise to $2 million for individuals and $4 million for couples.

HAHAHAHAHA! Paris Hilton laughs at you rabble for being silly enough to not pay attention and to help her save money while you lose your jobs, healthcare and legal protections! WHEEEEE! Welcome to Bizzaro world - please watch your step.

Oh but it gets better: How rich get richer: all the rest pay more IRS scrutinizes wage earners but takes investors at their word under separate, unequal system
Get a raise last year, or a bigger job, or make some extra money working overtime? You'll pay the tax man.

Too bad you did not get a job as a hedge fund manager. If you had, you would not owe any taxes come April 15 on your share of the hedge fund's profits.

Hedge funds are unregulated investment pools open only to rich individuals and big institutions. They operate offshore. And for their managers, some of whom earned a half-billion dollars last year, taxes are deferred as long as they keep the hedge fund open and the profits offshore, while you get taxes deducted from your paycheck. And, thanks to our government, their tax avoidance is perfectly legal.

What few of us realize is that the United States has two income tax systems, separate and unequal.
Oh we realize, we realize... do you?
One system is for wage earners. Congress requires that your employer report your pay so Internal Revenue Service computers can check up on your tax return. Banks report interest. Brokerages report dividends. You must provide a Social Security number for each child you claim as a dependent. Congress does not trust you.

The other system is for business owners, landlords and investors. Congress does not require such independent reporting, saying that would be a burden.
Sounds like we're back to the 19th century! Hmmm, child labor is probably just around the corner (just like good old Grover Norquist wants!)
Studies by the government show that investors understate their capital gains by close to $200 billion each year. The IRS has no mechanism -- none - - to check up on capital gains, according to two professors, Jay Soled, who teaches business at Rutgers in New Jersey, and Joseph Dodge, who teaches tax law at Florida State University. They estimate that capital gains tax cheating alone costs the government $29 billion annually.

But IRS auditors will catch people who cheat, right? Not really.

For more than a decade, Congress has steadily eroded the capacity of the IRS to enforce the tax laws, with one exception. Since 1997, Congress has approved more than $1 billion in extra funds to audit the working poor. In recent years, parents who work full time at the minimum wage have been as much as eight times more likely to be audited than millionaire investors in partnerships.

The wealthy who mine the tax system face little risk of getting caught. Only 1 partnership in 400 gets audited, and agents say many audits are superficial and closed quickly to make statistical reports create the appearance of toughening enforcement.
We laugh so that we do not cry... we laugh so that we do not cry...