Thursday, November 18, 2004

Time to start yelling
It's nice that some people are still looking into election shenanigans. But let's be clear about where this fits into the grander scheme of things; it's unlikely that anyone is going to find evidence to over turn the election. The election system has some serious problems. People of good will on both sides of the aisle need to push for an overhaul and standardization of many parts of the system. This is a long-term legislative goal. If that's your top issue*, get to work on it, just don't expect to accomplish anything overnight. If the election overhaul is not your top issue, there are some very pressing issues coming up that we need to get to work on.

I think that there is a strong consensus in these parts that one of the most valuable things the bloggers of Left Blogistan can do is to help build a Democratic/progressive information system to counter the mighty Wurlitzer of the right. I'm sure we will talk about how best to do this, but, in short, we need to work on framing our messages and we need to crank up the volume to get those messages out. Here's an easy issue to practice on.

When Bush declared victory after the election and claimed that he had a bucket-load of political capital, he listed tax "reform" as one of his top issues for the coming term. He promised to name a bipartisan panel to draft a fundamental tax reform proposal. This week, even before the panel was named, some details of that proposal began to trickle out.

Issue One. Without even looking at the proposed changes, what's wrong with this picture? We know the results of the commission even before we have the commission. I hope we're not paying these people anything. This is a very revealing and unflattering glimpse into Bush's management style and idea of what "bipartisanship" means. When naming an "independent**" commission to look into something of national concern, he already has the results in hand that he wants them to "discover." "Independent" commission is just a fig leaf to get the results he wants. And bipartisan? He made that clear the day after the election. Bipartisan means he's willing to let us help push his agenda. That's awfully damn white of him, don't you think?

Now, let’s look at the specifics that the commission is going to recommend after they are appointed and have a chance to meet.
[T]he administration plans to push major amendments that would shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation, expand tax breaks for business investment and take other steps intended to simplify the system and encourage economic growth, according to several people who are advising the White House or are familiar with the deliberations.

Issue Two. More tax breaks for Bush's rich friends. We can expect the administration to make a big deal of how most middle-class people now own some stocks and will therefore benefit from cuts in interest, dividends, and capitals gains taxes. They will avoid mentioning the fact that most people own less than a thousand dollars in stocks, and very few people make a significant portion of their income from interest, dividends, or capitals gains. Can anyone tell me which end of the financial spectrum holds those people that do make most of their income from interest, dividends, and capitals gains? If you answered "the top end," give yourself a gold star.
The changes are meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns...

Issue Three. If you live in a place with deductible state and local taxes--the entire state of Oregon, for example--your taxes will go up.
...and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, the advisers said.

Issue Four. If you're not in a union, say bye-bye to any part of your health insurance that your employer provides. If you are in a union, expect to have to strike to keep your insurance, next your contract comes up for renewal.

This is an easy set of messages to work with. George Bush is a control freak. Bipartisanship with the New Republicans is a sham. Bush wants to give yet another round of tax breaks to his millionaire friends. Bush wants to raise the taxes of people who actually work for a living. Bush wants to get rid of your insurance. Bush hid these plans until after the election.

See. It's easy and fun. Tell your neighbors. Tell your Mom. Write a letter and make copies. Send a copy to each of your congressfolks. Send a copy to Your local paper. Send a copy to a national paper. Send a copy to each of your teevee stations. Be polite, but firm.

* In fact, it is a big issue for my wife and me. I'll have some words to say about it later.

** Irony quotes are going to be one of the most thoroughly worked out pieces of punctuation in the old typesetting box over the next four years.

No comments: