I want to point out three related stories today that have to do with the state of the American economy and why you and I are getting worse off instead of better off.
The first story is from David Cay Johnston, author of Perfectly Legal, who turns in more stellar work. He reports on anIRS report that was released yesterday. Keep in mind that it’s the Republican, conservative IRS that is reporting this bit of news:
After falling for two years, the share of income going to the richest slice of Americans - the top tenth of 1 percent - grew significantly in 2003 while the share going to 99 percent of Americans fell, tax data released yesterday showed.
What the sentence says in plain English is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And guess what? That’s what today’s Republican party wants. They give tax cuts to those with the highest incomes, which of course has the consequence of making their incomes even higher, as this new report shows.
Johnston goes on to point out another oddity about Bush’s tax cuts, which the yellow-ribbon-magnet-conservatives profess to love so dearly (the tax cuts, not the oddity):
The top 10th of 1 percent paid almost 23.6 percent of their reported income in
income taxes in 2003, down from just under 27 percent in 2002. That is a decline
of 3.4 percentage points. For taxpayers in the bottom 80 percent, the effective
tax rates fall by three-tenths of a percentage point or less.
Get that? For bottom dwellers like us, tax rates declined far less than the 129,000 richest people in the country. Recall that Bush said “by far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum” when campaigning in 2000. Then he pushed through the tax cuts that produced this lopsided effect. Is this dishonesty on Bush’s part or merely a grievous, unforgivable unfamiliarity with the details of “his” tax plan?
But sweet Jesus, this quote has been proven false over and over again. When is Bush’s double dealing going to come back to haunt him? Let’s try to set a date for sometime in November 2006.
Food Stamps–Who Needs ‘Em?
Here’s another story about how “compassionate conservatism” has been code for “Fuck the poor”:
Democrats are fighting attempts to make cuts in food stamps and conservation programs at a time when people are coping with hurricanes and drought.
"Right now the difference between life and death for many Americans is the food stamp program," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. "We should not, we cannot, cut the very nutritional programs that are literally saving lives."
A Republican plan to cut agriculture spending by $3 billion had been scheduled for a vote Thursday in the Senate Agriculture Committee, but the panel's chairman, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., put off the vote indefinitely late Wednesday...The bill by Chambliss would cut food programs for the poor by $574 million and conservation programs and farm payments by more than $1 billion each.
Oh Saxby, you are doing so much for Georgia and your country. Much more than that evil America-hater and Vietnam burnout Max Cleland would’ve ever done.
Yeah, that’s a good one, Sax...cut food stamps right after the most costly natural disaster in the history of our country and when people have been affected in the way that they have in our third story below...
Katrina Unemployment Agency
Yes, also let’s not forget that the hundreds of thousands of people who have been thrown out of work and hence have had their incomes cut off need to stop sucking at the federal teat, right Sax, old chap?
Here’s a good quote (and by “good” I mean “extremely depressing”):
The number of Americans filing first- time claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week as workers displaced by Hurricane Rita joined Katrina's victims.
Claims for benefits rose by 21,000 to 390,000 for the week ended Oct. 1 from a revised 369,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said today in Washington. About 74,000 claims last week came from people who lost their jobs because of the two storms, a Labor spokesman said. He did not give figures for each hurricane.
Benefit claims may climb in coming weeks as workers displaced by Rita continue to file for payments. The rise in claims from Katrina, which submerged most of New Orleans and nearby areas, may lead to a loss of payroll jobs for the first time since May 2003 when the government reports September employment tomorrow.
Well, even though that story speaks for itself, I feel I must remind everyone that at the end of Bush’s first, unelected term, our economy had lost 2 million jobs.
And now here’s a quarter to half million more, all at once.