Even Republicans Balk at Bush Tax Cut
Published on Tuesday, March 6, 2001 in the Madison Capital Times
Even Republicans Balk at Bush Tax Cut
by John Nichols
 
It appears that even Republicans are having a hard time coming up with arguments in favor of President Bush’s tax cut plan, which even the White House now admits will direct the overwhelming majority of benefits to the wealthiest Americans.

With the president having acknowledged that roughly a quarter of the tax cut will go directly into the pockets of the richest 1 percent of Americans — and that well over 50 percent of the largesse will be delivered to folks with incomes over $100,000 a year — the Bush plan looks like the most radical redistribution of income America has seen since King George III was shaking down the colonials.

Up against that reality, Bush backers are understandably hard-pressed to come up with rationales for their boy’s tax strategy. This is definitely a case where honesty — "We gave Bush a lot of money for his campaign, and now he is going to restructure tax policy so that we pay less while working people shoulder more of the burden" — just doesn’t cut it.

Luckily, Republican loyalists in Wisconsin and other states don’t have to think. As part of a coordinated campaign to create the fantasy that Bush’s Robin-Hood-in-Reverse gambit has popular appeal, members of the Wisconsin Republican e-mail list have been deluged with promptings to write representatives and local papers.

As one recipient of the party’s urgent e-mails put it when she forwarded the sample letters, "Word must have come down from the Bush team that the tax plan is really in trouble. ... I’ve gotten a ton of e-mails asking folks to write letters to the editor and to call their congressfolks pleading to pass this thing."

Just how desperate the Bushistas are to sell their scheme is obvious from the "sample" letters to the editor the GOP is urging partisans to print out, sign and send. Here are some favorites:

Dear Editor: I did a double take the other night when President Bush spoke to the nation. Here was a man who finally understands what’s important. He wants to double funding on medical research on cancer and other diseases. He wants to pay off more government debt than any other country in history. He wants to make our schools better and our streets safer. And he wants to let me keep more of my money in the form of a tax cut. Only those who make a conscious choice to live in the past could overlook what President Bush wants to do for our future.

Signature

Dear Editor: The president was right on the other night when he said he wanted to keep his word to seniors by locking away Social Security and Medicare funds for Social Security and Medicare alone. Here is a man that knows our generation created much of America’s greatness and he is delivering on his promise to keep Washington from raiding seniors’ retirement and health care programs. He has my support.

Signature

Dear Editor: The president’s new budget looks a lot like my personal budget. He funds what’s important. He saves money for unseen emergencies. He pays off as much debt as possible. He takes care of seniors. And he gives reasonable tax relief. Looks to me like he is making government decisions the way families make family decisions.

Signature

Notice how all of these folksy dispatches attempt to steer attention away from Bush’s tax cut for the rich? Notice how they all try to suggest that the Bush budget takes care of all of the nation’s needs? Notice the suggestion that Bush "is delivering on his promise to keep Washington from raiding seniors’ retirement" — when, in fact, he wants to downsize Social Security so that more retirement money can be risked on Wall Street?

This is classic "spin." The problem is that even the people on the GOP e-mail list are giggling. As the person who forwarded these sample letters to me put it: "It was really hard to control my laughter when I read some of these."

Copyright 2001 The Capital Times

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