December 2004 Archives

The Bush Tax Plan: 1

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The Washington Post reports Bush's desire to reform tax policy by the end of 2005 has been pushed back a year. Apparently, with his economists working on killing Social Security as we know it, and the need to cut Bush's highest budget deficit ever in half over the next 4 (or 5) years, while continuing to move the national debt toward the expected 10 Trillion dollars by decades end, there just isn't enough brain power to do taxes as well.

It is just as well. Putting off tax reform reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's joke about Reagan sleeping in the Oval Office. Guthrie said, "the more he sleeps, the safer we are". The more reforms President Bush push's off to the future, the better off we may well be. It appears from the Washington Post article that the Whitehouse has decided to adopt the same strategy as with Social Security, an incremental approach. The big question is, incremental toward what end? The President knows a complete overhaul of the tax system in one piece of legislation, will not pass Congressional muster, which begs the question: Why should the public buy an incremental approach?

Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, is in trouble, and it is in all the headlines. But, apparently he has a genius in his corner as evidenced by his press conference yesterday. It was a masterful PR play.

Secretary Rumsfeld was a key and pivotal decision maker in all of the bad and incompetent decisions that have been made invading Iraq and directing the war in Iraq. His backing of the decision to invade Iraq, to invade without a plan for winning the peace, to invade prior to our troops and support personnel being fully equipped and safeguarded, to ignore the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people throughout 2003, his decision to not be bothered by signing those 1 thousand 280 some death notices to GI families, have all led to a heap of criticism of his performance recently. He apparently asked Karl Rove, 'How do I defend against all this criticism'?

President Bush's touting of a Social Security Crisis has been somewhat successful in deceiving a majority of the public. According to the Washington Post Americans accept the crisis by about 74%. (Why Bush's touting a crisis is a deception is discussed in the article entitled, Bush Selling S.S. Same as Iraq War). The Washington Post however states the public is not entirely sold on his stock market options. So, Reuters reports the President and conservative groups are going to launch a media blitz selling campaign.

If you felt the premises for, and the trumped up fears to support, Bush's invasion of Iraq were regrettable, be advised the very same huckster salesmanship is being applied to privatizing Social Security. Yesterday, President Bush completed his two day staged, no contest, no debate, summit for American economic policy. Using the exact same tactics to sell the invasion of Iraq to the American people, he made his pitch for privatizing Social Security. The tactics were clear and simple. Start with false premises and statements, add a huge layer of fear, and then push the sale for the transfer of tax dollars into the deep pockets of his corporate buddies who supported his election.

Let me say up front, this is not a simple issue, nor one that can be understood in a few sentences. I hope you will trust me when I say that you will have a much clearer picture of what is taking place with the Social Security issue by following this article to its end.

The Unseen Casualties

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The New York Times is running a story this morning on the unseen American GI casualties which are beginning to, and are anticipated to, overwhelm our Veteran's health care system. They are the psychologically wounded. The article is entitled, A Flood of Troubled Soldiers Is in the Offing, Experts Predict. These stories struck home with me, since my last 2 years of duty in the Army from 1973 to 1975, were spent working as a psychiatric technician in a military hospital at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

In general, there are two schools of thought regarding public awareness of our GI casualties. One school, to which the Bush Administration subscribes, says it is injurious to our war effort, to our armed forces in harms way, and to our continued public support of war endeavors, to make too public the nature and reality of our soldiers casualties. The other school says, in a civilian democracy, to hide casualties of war from public view is to encourage militarism and war as a solution without regard for the real human costs to our nation, and without exhausting all other alternatives, first.

Mr. Lantos (D) on the House International Relations Committee calls for an end to China's one child policy to manage its former population explosion and calls for American sanctions against China to force them to cease enforcement of the One Child Policy.

Mr. Tancredo (R) indicated our government will not take such drastic actions and implied that the consequences to the U.S. and its economy and international relations with China would be too greatly harmed by such measures.

Last month I wrote an article here entitled United: A chance! - Divided: No Chance! in which it was recommended that third parties find their common ground and goals, and unite under one umbrella toward those ends in the next election, pooling efforts and resources on the national level. I was alerted yesterday, that a petition to the third parties asking for just that, has just been opened up for signatures on the internet.

If you believe the Democratic and Republican Parties need to have some real competition in future elections forcing their agendas toward the common sense, middle or the road American citizens and policies, visit the Petition Online and add your name to the cause. It is quick and simple and takes less than half a minute to add your name to this most worthy cause.

Reuters reports the following in an article entitled, Bush Says No Payroll Tax Hike for Social Security:

President Bush ruled out raising payroll taxes to help pay for Social Security reform on Thursday, leaving him few options other than a sharp increase in government borrowing to bankroll transition costs estimated at up to $2 trillion.

"We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem," said Bush, rejecting a solution advocated by some experts and Republican lawmakers.

The grand lie is very easy to detect. If the reform adds up to $2 trillion dollars to the national debt, the taxpayers will see an increase in their payroll taxes, just not this year. The current national debt is over 7.5 trillion dollars. This reform will bump that number to 9 or 9.5 trillion. If the President and his GOP led Congress hold to his promise of cutting the deficit in half over the next 5 years, the deficits each of those years will still amount to at least an additional 2 trillion dollars added to the national debt. That puts our national debt at 11 to 11.5 trillion dollars. A trillion dollars is 1,000 billion dollars, so we are talking 11 to 11.5 thousand billions of dollars of national debt.

When questioned by an Army specialist about why our troops are being observed searching through Iraqi dumps for armor for their vehicles, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said "you go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want". That is an outrageous statement under the circumstances. If Iraq had attacked American soil or one of our allies, or posed an imminent threat which Bush denies he ever claimed, then a nation must go to war with the Army it has. But, this was an entirely elective war. Pres. Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld decided on the date to invade and they chose to invade before our troops and equipment were ready.

The Non-draft Draft: Soldiers are suing the Bush government for breach of contract in preventing them from exiting the armed forces on the dates they thought they agreed to when they enlisted. This is going to be a policy full of unintended consequences. The Bush administration likely has no sympathy for a bunch of troops who just don't appreciate fine print or lack patriotic courage in the face of death or maiming after their discharge date has passed. That's fine.

But, what does it say to young men around this country who have been debating themselves over whether to enlist or not? Can the American military afford to create disincentives to potential enlistees given President Bush's assurances he will not reinstate the draft? Can the U.S. afford to fight the axis of evil without increasing its enlistments beyond the inevitable attrition rates of casualties and discharges? Is President Bush in fact, backing off of the war on terrorism and with Iran and N. Korea because of the lack of military manpower and his promises not to reinstate the draft? If he is, he is exposing Americans to the greatest future threat possible, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by N. Korea and acquisition of nuclear weapons by a known terrorist sponsor state, Iran.

Scott McClellan, President Bush's spokesperson to the press, said today in his press briefing that the President does not have a plan for Social Security. Instead, McClellan said, the President has a set of principles. McClellan states the President is committed to not passing on the tax burden for Soc. Sec. in current form to future generations. Also, that the President is reaching out to Congress on both sides of the aisle to come up with a plan to continue Social Security.

One thing McClellan said is indisputable. The President does not have a plan for Social Security. The majority of Americans do not want Social Security to fail as a safety net for our elderly or for themselves when they retire, after society has no further use for them. The President presents the image of being committed to saving Social Security so America does not discard its elderly to the alleys and gutters of society. But, is the image an illusion?

Bert Caradine has a really fine article on the taboo topic of racism in America and how it has become institutionalized and politically incorrect subject. You can find it on his That Colored Fella's Weblog: It's title is The Hard Evidence Of Voter Suppression. Highly recommended.

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