Saturday, June 25, 2005

Last Throes - You Bet

Vice President Cheney says the Iraq insurgency is in its "last throes." Now our Vice President isn't often right about much of anything and his record on Iraq is beyond dismal, but I think we should give this one to him. The insurgency is so close to the end we can start our withdrawal immediately."

Estate Tax Redux

The Washington Post has also waded in on the Estate tax.

As an asside, I've been wondering about the Post in the last few years. In the past they embodied the maxim that the role of good journalists was to "speak truth to power." But that changed with the Bush administration. They have been far too deferential, and not just in the immediate 9/11 aftermath. Lets hope a change is in the wind.

The Post correctly suggests that the Democrats, who seem wobbly on the Senator Kyle's proposal to effectively repeal the estate tax, have both the policy and politics wrong. The policy is easy. We need to raise taxes, especially on the wealthy. Our deficits are unsustainable and will cripple us if most of the Bush tax cuts are not repealed, or at least let to expire. The Republicans have successfully waged class warfare against the middle class for the last twenty-five years and it is time to put matters right. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued a March 7, 2005 Report which is a must read about the scary change in after tax income distribution since 1979. The bottom line is this. From 1979 to 2002 the after tax income, adjusted for inflation, of the bottom fifth of income earners went up a total of 5%. The middle fifth, which was $43,700 in 2002, saw an increase over those twenty three years of 15%. The top fifth increased 48% and the top one percent saw a whopping 111% increase. Think about that. The incomes of the already super rich increased more than seven times as fast as the income of the middle class. If we have more of this we will truly become a banana republic economy.

While the Estate Tax did not cause this massive income shift, curtailing or eliminating it will make it worse. It will take us in the wrong direction.

On the politics, the Democratic party need to shed its fear of the "class warfare" charge. They should adopt it as their own. The Republicans have been waging class warfare against the middle class for years. They enrich their friends through tax policies, corporate welfare and regulatory policies that strip them of accountability. If the Democrats would simply stand up and call it like it is, they will not only win but also begin to return our country to some semblance of economic balance and social equality.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Estate Tax Insanity

The New York Times has it right on the continuing efforts to reduce or repeal the Estate Tax. But there is one additional thought to consider -

What is the difference between the War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War on the one hand - and the Iraq War/ War on Terror on the other. In the first group, we paid for the war in part by imposing or maintaining in place an Estate Tax that generated revenue from the most well off in our country. For the Iraq War we reduced and are on the verge of repealing the Estate Tax in place. I guess 9/11 really did change everything.

One can only hope that sanity will soon return to our Government.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Flag Burning-Playing Politics with The Constitution

The Washington Post reported that the House Of Representatives approved, again, a flag burning (or desecration) amendment. My first reaction was to write my Senator, Slazar. (I didn't even bother with Allard, but I might change my mind, even though it would do no good.) Here is the letter:

Dear Senator Salazar,

Once again the House has disgraced itself, our Nation and every person who ever wore the uniform by adopting a flag burning (desecration) amendment. I know the politics of this are tough, but the principle is too important to let this pass the Senate. Please oppose the amendment.

I served in the Army and twenty-five years in the Federal government, because I love my country. The symbols of our country are meaningless if we debase the principles upon which it was built. The flag burning amendment elevates a symbol, the flag, above one of the most cherished principles of our Nation, freedom of speech, which especially includes offensive speech.

With our freedoms and values under constant assault by those by those in the Administration and Congress who think they can achieve anything they wish by simply yelling "terror," now is an especially inauspicious time to give in to those who want to play politics with our Constitution. Please fight them.

You recently honored Flag Day. Nothing would dishonor our flag more than to turn it into an excuse to undermine our cherished Constitution.

Please stand firm.

Gary L. Norton