indictment of Scooter Libby and the nomination to the Supreme Court of Samuel Alito, the administration is continuing to tighten its control over the national economic/political process.
On the one hand you have Democrats swooning about how this is the beginning of the end for Bush and how the white knight Fitzgerald is going to slay the Neo-Con dragon. They are ecstatic that a majority of the country now sees the war in Iraq as a tragic mistake. They feel that high gas prices, stagflation and the national deficit are winning allies from independents and moderate Republican circles every day. I saw a political cartoon today that implied Rove, Cheney and Bush were all on the run and had fled the country.
On the other hand they are gearing up for a fight over Judge Alito, even before it is clear whether there should be one. The Neo-Cons are promising the nuclear option if Alito's nomination is filibustered, while some Democrats are already promising to shut down the Senate if they can't win. Recent polls have given them hope that they will gain public support for a filibuster if Alito can be portrayed as clearly against Roe vs Wade. The Democrats can almost smell a house majority in the 2006 elections.
Hokum, they aren't watching the pea. First let's talk about the things that are being ignored that are significant and then this roll the Democrats think they are on.
For starters the new budget bill proposes $70 billion in new tax breaks for the rich while cutting $10 billion in Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly and poor. A new tax code is being recommended that would tax labor more heavily then dividends or capital gains. In other words if you make money shoveling, you'll pay a higher tax rate then the guy going by in the back of his chauffeured Rolls-Royce.
The government just allowed approximately $300 billion in offshore earnings to enter the country under a special deal that only taxes it a rate of 5%. So the government won't find itself in the embarrassing position of having to work out special deals for its campaign donors in the future, the new tax code recommends that corporations not pay any tax on money earned overseas.
Even though most corporations pay never pay any real taxes, the corporate rate would be reduced to 31.5%, cheaper then they have ever been. Most would likely increase the payment of dividends which would be tax free to individual shareholders although not to most of the little folks who own stock through mutual funds and retirement vehicles, they would pay 15% on investments. Meanwhile the wealthy would pay a top capital gains tax on average, of 8.25%,
Setting a cap on corporate deductions for health insurance premiums would encourage more and more companies to drop their plans as health care costs continue to outpace inflation and employers squeeze for more profit. In the place of a number of current deductions for healthcare, retirement and education would be three tax exempt savings accounts for individuals which you could put up to $20,000 a year into. Great, I always have an extra 20k that I don't need lying around to salt away in a tax free account.
In addition the abolition of certain tax breaks like the deductions for state and local taxes will hurt the little guy a lot more then the rich. The loss of the property tax deduction would wipe out any interest deduction for most small homeowners as well as increase resistance to raising local taxes at a time when the feds have shifted more of the costs to local and state governments.
While doing away with the alternative minimum tax for individuals, which at least needs to be indexed, it would also do away with the alternative minimum tax on corporations which has been virtually ignored in the press.
Media Concentration and Control
In notable but unheralded telecommunications acquisitions, SBC acquired AT&T and Verizon purchased MCI, which will yield further consolidation and concentration of telecommunication/media control. The few anti-monopoly restrictions placed on them will all expire after a maximum of 30 months allowing them to raise rates, shut out competition and restrict competitive use of access.
Meanwhile over at the Corporation of Public Broadcasting Board of Directors, the new GOP fundraiser Chairperson and Kenneth Tomlinson replacement, Cheryl Halpern is fast turning public broadcasting into a pro government propaganda machine. She hired former co-chair of the Republican National Committee, Patricia de Stacy Harrison, as President. She in turn has brought along her old subordinates from the State Department Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy Division (read Ministry of Foreign Propaganda) to do their magic on the American people via public television and radio. They include Tom Igsitt, Vice President for Government Affairs; Mike Levy Vice President of Communications; and Helen Mobley, director of Corporate Communications and Planning. All three have extensive overseas propaganda experience.
The Continued Removal of Corporate Responsibility
The corporate owned congress continues to feed its contributors and give the bill to the American people. Having passed bills that relieve corporate accountability for fast food and guns they now want to help the pharmaceutical industry. Stating that limiting liability is the only way to get companies to produce avian flu vaccines it is just a foot in the door to relieve them from any liability for future development of new pharmaceuticals.
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