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Farmers, Vets, Elderly Get Bush's Tab
Published on Wednesday, February 9, 2005 by the Capital Times (Madison, Wisconsin)
Farmers, Vets, Elderly Get Bush's Tab
by Dave Zweifel

We got a glimpse this week at who is going to pay for the fiscal irresponsibility of this administration.

It's our farmers, our veterans, our frail elderly who are going to pay for George Bush's tax cuts for the rich and for the ill-conceived, incredibly expensive war, which have combined to throw our nation into such debt that other nations are starting to worry about our economic health.

Surely, this president can't be serious about forcing America's veterans - more than 14,000 of them with serious injuries suffered in his war with Iraq - to pay a bigger share of their prescription drugs, plus charge them an up-front $250 fee to be treated in the veterans' health care system.

But, yes, there it is in the budget he sent to Congress Monday: a budget that cuts Medicaid help to the states, eliminates most of the farm subsidies enacted only a few years ago, and shifts yet more costs onto the financially strapped states.

And while all this is going on, let's take a look at what was quietly done by this administration only last month.

All those giant American corporations that in recent years have cleverly shifted their profit centers to overseas locations so they could avoid paying U.S. income taxes were offered a "tax holiday" if they would bring those profits back home.

In exchange for doing so, they would have to pay just 5.25 percent of those profits in taxes, compared to the normal corporate rate of 35 percent.

So many of these "patriotic" corporations took advantage.

Johnson and Johnson, for example, repatriated $11 billion. Big drug companies like Shering-Plough and Eli Lilly brought home $9.4 billion and $8 billion respectively. Pfizer is considering bringing home as much as $29 billion.

Intel, which has sold tens of thousands of its products inside computers purchased by American governments of all stripes, is looking at $6 billion in repatriate-eligible profits while Hewlett-Packard has $14.5 billion eligible for the tax holiday.

Rather than work to tighten the tax laws to close the loopholes these companies have been using to shift profits to low-tax locations, the administration is giving them a pass.

Wouldn't it be nice if the average American worker could shift his or her income to a place like Bermuda for a few years and, in exchange for bringing it back home, pay just a 5 percent tax?

Instead, one way or another, those American workers will make up for what those corporations didn't pay. It's the way this administration works.

©2005 Capital Times


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