Somewhere in D.C. there’s gotta be a squadron of young interns whose only duty is to make sure people don’t talk about anything on Facebook unless it has to do with lunch or narcissism. What a boring job — having access to Senator So-and-So’s exciting bat signal and never getting to use it. I’m not against social media, of course, but it is a useful barometer for detecting apathy and ignorance. Even as the Senate has painted fiscal targets on our backs again this week, we’re still more concerned about finding shoes for Christmas party outfits. Generation Me is full of people who use powerlessness as an excuse for laziness, and that’s got to end.
There’s an awful lot of talk about the expiration of 2003′s tax cuts coming up at the end of this month. Republicans are vehemently pushing for the deep breaks to remain effective for those making more than $250,000 a year, using the reasoning that it’s good for the economy in terms of high-dollar spending and employment rates — citing America’s millionaires as the largest group of employers. It is true that America’s millionaires employ more folks than, say, someone who makes $15,000 a year. Duh. However, the rich are not creating new jobs for Americans as is clearly reflected by unemployment studies.
According to the US Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates have, in fact, risen sharply in the years following the implementation of the 2003 Bush tax cuts (click on the images to enlarge):
Furthermore, many companies owned by the richest 2% of our population are offshoring this loss of labor, for which they are remarkably also receiving additional corporate tax breaks. Read as: They’re being heavily rewarded for nothing short of their extreme lack of patriotism. If this isn’t pandering to an American oligarchy, I’d hate to see exactly what that will look like.
Republicans are (still) blocking all legislation until the Senate agrees to renew the tax cuts for our country’s wealthiest 2% of taxpayers. Last week, the 42 Republican senators signed a letter written to Harry Reid, which basically says either the rich get their tax cuts or everybody will suffer, and that the senators, who are supposed to represent all of us, will continue to filibuster until that happens. To write your arrogant Republican senator a thank you note, go here.
Of course, there is still time to let your elected officials understand that you do not want a middle class tax hike at the expense of their partisan BS. By “time,” I mean about five minutes, so read the rest of this after you’ve taken a trip here.
In 2003, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky bravely represented the broadest taxpaying base of Americans in her speech on the house floor (H5247, pg 14420, June 11, 2003) when she supported the child tax credit, which was originally denied by Republican leaders. Perhaps you’ll recognize several top supporters of the original Bush tax cuts bill. Even Fox News can’t really find anything nice to say about the one who was convicted week before last and is now up for serving a life sentence (cough, cough, Tom DeLay, cough, cough). Ms. Schakowsky eloquently explains the exact intent of the 2003 cuts in her seven-year-old congressional address below. Not a lot has changed, really (except for the criminal conviction of the biggest lobbyist for the original cuts):
Mr. Speaker, it is stunning to me that whenever Democrats stand up on behalf of working families that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle start shaking their finger and saying, oh, the tax- and-spend Democrats. It is really amazing and takes an incredible amount of nerve for the Republicans to still want to wear that jacket of fiscal responsibility and to invoke it when we start talking about working families like this.
Let us remember that the President [Bush] was handed a $5 trillion surplus, surpluses as far as the eye could see. That is gone, blew that; and now we are at about a, according to the former Secretary, they are charging about a $4 trillion projected deficit, a debt, on top of that, and in a very short time we are almost $1 trillion in deficit. That means more money spent than we have brought in.
They like to talk about the war: Oh, we had to spend all that money on homeland security. And indeed, we did, but let us remember that most of that deficit is caused because we are giving tax cuts to the wealthiest.
Now the excuse is, well, this family, the Johnstons who make only $19,000, they do not deserve a tax cut, they say, because they do not pay tax. Hello, these are people who are paying a payroll tax. They pay sales tax, they pay excise taxes, like taxes on the gasoline they buy to get to their jobs, and they pay a payroll tax.
Think for a minute. What are the only taxes that have not been reduced? We are not talking about dividend taxes, most of the people who clip coupons, the taxes that they pay. We are not talking about the taxes on high incomes. We are talking about the taxes that everyday working people pay. That is what we are trying to do with the child tax credit, for families like that, so that they can take it and buy formula or baby food for this baby, so that they can provide for her. And that is what we are trying to do.
My colleagues notice this family is not smiling, but I want to show them the face of some people who are, in fact, smiling. Why are they smiling? A report by the Committee on Government Reform minority staff on the tax bill found that Treasury Secretary Snow’s estimated dividend and capital tax savings is between $331,000 and $842,000. That is a 1-year tax cut. No wonder he is smiling.
Secretary Evans could see between $68,000 and $595,000 in tax savings.
Vice President CHENEY, who is not in the picture but is probably smiling at some undisclosed location, will reap $116,000 a year from the dividend capital gains provisions in the tax cut. In fact, the total tax savings for President Bush, Vice President CHENEY, and the Cabinet could be up to $3.2 million. If I were a member of the Cabinet, I would probably be smiling, too.
In my State, 674,000 children and 378,000 families are not smiling. Nearly 1 in 4 families in Illinois were left behind. Now, of course, they [the Republicans] say if we take care of them we are just tax-and- spend. Tell me that we do not have enough money when we are giving tax breaks like that to not only the wealthiest in the private sector but these individuals who are serving us now as members of the Cabinet.
Behind closed doors in final negotiations of the tax cut bill for millionaires, the White House and Republican leaders exterminated the child tax credit provision that would have helped families like the Johnstons and others making between $10,500 and $26,625. That is the people that we are talking about, people who in their lifetime it will take years and years and years to earn what these individuals will get in 1 year in a tax cut. By eliminating that provision, Republicans were guaranteeing that millionaires like Secretary Snow and Secretary Evans get their full tax cut.
It did not take long for the American people to find out that their neighbors and their friends got the short end of the Republican tax cut stick, and that is why the United States Senate was shamed into passing a Democratic proposal to provide those low-income families with their well-deserved child tax credit that was removed in a secret deal by Vice President CHENEY.
They passed a restoration of the tax cut for those lower-income families, working families by, 94–2. But what are we hearing on this side? Majority Leader DELAY said, ‘‘It ain’t going to happen.’’ Well, I want to say that I think it ought to happen, I think it will happen, and we need to make it happen.
A much belated thank you to Illinois HR Schakowsky all the way from somewhere in north Texas, 2010. I appreciate lawmakers who appreciate me even when I can’t vote for them. It takes nerve to go against the grain for the good of all, especially when the people you’re trying to help are too busy updating their Facebook statuses about what they’re doing every five seconds in order to notice that someone just saved them hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
I don’t want to hear any complaining in April if you’re not gonna set aside five minutes and take action right now. As fruitless as you think it is, go there, guys. We’ve got a 98% advantage, you know.