The Bush Tax Sham. (Comment)

By Hickey, Roger | The Nation, January 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Bush Tax Sham. (Comment)


Hickey, Roger, The Nation


On January 7 George W. Bush went to the Economic Club of Chicago to preview what he has been calling his "jobs and economic growth package," which he will formally present in his State of the Union address later this month. The Bush plan repackages old proposals to aid the wealthy (accelerate some of the tax cuts for the rich already passed) and newly fashionable ones (exclude dividend income from taxation), while throwing the rest of us only a few small sops like increasing the childcare credit and finally supporting extension of unemployment benefits to workers whose benefits recently ran out. Bush and his advisers are clearly attempting another neat bait-and-switch: providing more giveaways to the wealthy and corporations over future decades but selling the package as a quick economic stimulus that will help working Americans find jobs and economic security.

The Bush economic proposals are a sham. They make the tax system more unfair, they starve the public sector of resources for needed public investment and they will not revive growth, spur corporate investment or create jobs. Progressives should say so loudly and clearly. But they must also make sure the Democratic Party's plan for jobs and economic growth offers a real alternative to the Bush program.

Numerous 2002 election post-mortems by analysts like pollster Stan Greenberg (www.ourfuture.org/greenberg) and others have demonstrated how, especially on the key issue of the economy, Democrats failed to give voters a reason to vote for them and against Republican candidates, with disastrous results. This time progressive groups aren't waiting for the Democrats. A coalition led by the Campaign for America's Future, AFSCME and other national organizations has united behind a progressive plan for growth and jobs written by Larry Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute (www.epinet.org). The plan would stimulate consumer demand through a "wage bonus" tax cut that would put money into the pockets of middle- and low-income Americans. It would directly aid the states, where the worst fiscal crisis in decades is now forcing painful cuts in jobs and services. The plan would also extend unemployment assistance to the jobless and invest in public needs--like school construction--that can put people to work quickly. Altogether, the elements of the plan could quickly inject $175 billion in stimulus into the weak economy, which EPI estimates would create 1.5 million jobs. And it would do all this without making the tax system more unfair and without giving away a big part of the tax base.

Shortly after the election, progressive leaders went into action to urge Congressional Democrats to rally behind the Mishel stimulus plan or something like it. …

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