Wednesday, May 16, 2007

SPINNING WHEEL: DEMOCRATS MAKE FIRST-MOVES AT SHUTTERING BUSH ADMINIATRATION'S TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHIEST IN 2008 BUDGET

Washington D.C.--This is the Democratic majority putting things bluntly to the Bush administration (over-and-over): it's over, and we're going to reverse everything you did, even in your first term. While it's non-binding, the approved $2.9 trillion budget for 2008 will effectively shutter Bush's tax cuts for the rich, cutting those for the middle and working-classes. Also slated for a new round of taxation, are dividends from stock shares. But, there's a hitch in the bill:

The Democratic budget promises a $41 billion surplus in 2012, but does so by assuming taxes on income, dividends and stock sales go up in 2011 instead of being extended as called for by Republicans and Bush. Republicans credit the tax cuts, passed in 2001 and 2003, with reviving the economy, but most Democrats say they are tilted in favor of wealthier taxpayers.Tax cuts aimed at the middle class could be renewed under the compromise, including provisions establishing a 10 percent rate on the first $12,000 of a couple's income, as well as relief for married couples, people with children and those inheriting large estates. (AP, 05.16.2007)

This is generally a good move, but why the "relief for...those inheriting large estates"? That needs to be changed, but since it's non-binding, that can be done later. Estate taxes should remain high for the wealthy, period. To exclude that element isn't a step in the right direction. Inheritance is income, and it's part of one's social responsibility to pay their taxes--their fair share. This compromise has to be removed from the legislation for it to be very meaningful.

But is it surprising? It shouldn't be in Washington, where private power is God. There's no need to study primates in Africa, the Capital is the best example of simian politics there is. AP points-out something very amusing about the legislation (no name for it given--S.Con.Res.21--the usual standard of the wires): there are no outlays for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan "after 2009" figured into how they can balance the budget by 2012. The plan even contends a $41 billion surplus by that year.

The writing is truly on the wall, and it appears that they're only going to do two-month appropriations for operations in the Middle East in Congress. None of this would have been possible under the former-GOP majority, and can be seen as very tangible progress. It's going to be interesting to see if the Bush administration fights over the tax-cuts for the rich and the Democrats' increases in domestic spending, like the bill's increases at the Department of Education.

The House last week passed legislation funding the war on two separate, 60-day installments. The Senate must take the next step by passing its own measure. Given the political forces at work, that legislation will be a placeholder, its only purpose to trigger three-way negotiations involving the House, Senate and Bush administration on a final compromise. As a result, officials said during the day that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell had discussed jointly advancing a bill so barebones that it contained no funds, and did little more than express congressional support for the troops. Negotiations on the final compromise are expected to take days. Bush has already signaled he will not accept the type of troop withdrawal timetables that Democrats want. For their part, Republicans hope to craft a measure that signals to the public that their patience for the war is running out. (AP, 05.15.2007)

He wouldn't short change the kids, would he? Well, yes, he would. This saga began on February 4th, remember? That's when the president submitted his budget to Congress. If you want proof of how much things have changed, it's that Bush no longer gets his rubber-stamp on legislation. The standoff could continue several more months, and the Democrats have everything to gain by continuing this, but I think the Bush administration will eventually have to capitulate...on nearly everything.

The Republicans are sending a lot of mixed-signals these days, aren't they? For those who wish to stand by the president and continue their support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: expect to be removed from office in upcoming-elections. It could be much sooner than you think. When you have such arch-conservatives like Hillary Clinton finally caving-in and supporting a bill by Dennis Kucinich, you know which way the wind is blowing (she's our national weather vane).

The reports of dozens of Iraqis dead daily are becoming the norm, and the occupation of the country is crumbling. In a very short time, you're going to be seeing GOP incumbents losing their cool and jumping-ship on the president and his war. Nominating a "War Czar" (finding the biggest sucker in the military, it seems) isn't going to change anything either. Bush has threatened a veto on any legislation that "exceeds" his targets for his own budget-balancing plan (just like the plan for postwar-Iraq). The current budget proposed by Democrats usurps his plan.

Responsibility for the war and its execution reside with the Executive, the branch that wanted the war and pushed very hard to have it--even doctoring intelligence to get it, and bullying traditional American allies and domestic critics. Polls in late-2002 showed clearly that 2/3rd's of the American public were against a prolonged-conflict, and so a short one was promised, and one that wouldn't cost the taxpayer. As we know--and most of us knew at that time--these were lies. Just this last-week, we've learned that billions in Iraqi oil have gone missing, while anywhere from $5-15 million in funds for the war and reconstruction go missing daily. It's time to end this circus.

AP Today: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070516/ap_on_go_co/congress_budget

"Clinton, Obama back Iraq fund cutoff": http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070516/ap_on_el_pr/us_iraq;_ylt=AtdJnbnb4M8SuwWwkxJ9KeiMwfIE

CQ on Bush's promise of a veto, 05.11.2007: http://public.cq.com/docs/cqm/cqmidday110-000002510357.html

S.Con.Res.21: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-sc21/show