Tuesday :: May 13, 2003

Democrats Afraid of Class Warfare Smear


by Steve

If you want to assess the worthiness of any of the Senate Democrats running for president, or Dick Gephardt for that matter, let’s see how long it takes any of them to have the guts to accuse Bush of class warfare for his tax policies. According to this sadly correct Washington Post piece today, the Democrats have been cowed by the White House away from attacking Bush’s tax cuts for what they really are: an assault on working people and an attempt to transfer the tax burdens of the wealthy and corporations to the middle and lower classes. Although Bush is the real Class Warrior here, he has managed to get the Democrats to clam up on this.

"Democrats are just scared to be accused of class warfare," a Senate Democratic tax aide conceded yesterday.

Peter R. Orszag, a Brookings Institution economist and critic of White House tax policy, gave Bush credit for what he called "a spin job" that used selective examples of lower-income families to convince many lower- and middle-income Americans that they have a stake in the tax cut's passage. Last week, a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found that 52 percent of Americans now think the tax cuts are "a good idea," an increase of 10 percentage points in two weeks.

That gain is all the more remarkable because the president's original $726 billion tax cut plan -- and the smaller versions that passed the House and are under consideration in the Senate -- clearly do favor the affluent.

Under Bush's original proposal, households with $40,000 to $50,000 in taxable income would receive an average tax cut of $482 and a boost of 1.2 percent to their total after-tax income. For households earning more than $1 million, the average tax cut would be more than $89,500, with an increase in their after-tax income of 4.2 percent, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center.

The $550 billion version that passed the House last week is even more skewed. Those same middle-income households would receive a tax cut of $452 and an income boost of 1.1 percent, while millionaires would receive a cut of $93,537, enough to increase their after-tax income by 4.4 percent. The more modest $350 billion tax cut that passed the Senate Finance Committee last week would trim the average millionaire's tax cut a bit, to $64,431. But it would also trim the middle class cut to $415.

The 10-year $1.35 trillion tax cut that passed in 2001 also gave the rich a windfall, but it left the relative income tax burden of each income group generally unchanged. That is because most of the cuts targeted income, and taxpayers at every income level received virtually the same percentage reduction. In contrast, the centerpiece of the White House and House tax plans -- sharp cuts in taxes paid on dividends and capital gains -- are aimed at investors, who tend to be very wealthy.

What are these guys afraid of? Afraid of Bush and his minions calling you someone who engages in class warfare? If I were running for president, I would wear that as a badge of honor this year. If you are too afraid to use the actual statistics and say that Bush’s tax policies favor the wealthy at the expense of our children, then you have no business running as a Democratic candidate for president.

And yes, that means you too John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards, and Bob Graham.

Steve :: 12:30 PM :: Comments (15) :: Digg It!