Uplifting tax cuts
‘Tis the season for all Americans to give thanks. But no single group continues to have as much to be thankful for as the wealthy. With millions of Americans living on unemployment benefits and growing numbers now receiving no help at all as their benefits expire, the rich continue to peddle ridiculous trickle-down theories as they clamor for yet another tax cut.
Even George W. Bush, who initiated a 10-year tax cut across the board starting in 2001, refused to make those cuts permanent and built in a sunset provision that is scheduled to end them soon. But with the slow pace of our economic recovery, there is a sensible proposal to extend the cuts to middle- and lower-income Americans, who will surely put the money directly back into the economy as they purchase the essentials of daily life.
It is a different story for the wealthy. In a recent USA Today report, Carl Steidtmann, chief economist at Deloitte, says that a strong stock market means that wealthy households are spending more while those who are anxious about losing their jobs are spending less.
“The rising tide isn’t lifting all boats,” according to Steidtmann.
The rich are spending more on high-definition and 3-D televisions, while many Americans are living the kinds of dramas that high cable fees bring to those screens.
Winnebago sales have doubled but a growing number of our fellow citizens are living in their vehicles full-time, not just on weekend getaways.
And high-end organic pet food is flying off the shelves of chic markets as more struggling families surrender their pets to shelters.
Another analyst is looking for increased holiday sales of Victoria’s Secret “Miraculous” push-up bras as an indication that consumer spending is up. As this reasoning goes, since lingerie is a personal luxury that women usually buy for themselves, strong sales will mean that there are discretionary dollars being spent after essentials are purchased.
But underwear is of little concern to those who are worried about losing their shirts.
Many middle-income Americans recently went to the polls to express their frustration with the pace of our economic recovery. But if they thought that Republicans would lead them to a better place, they were mistaken. Right after the election, Republican congressional leaders turned on the middle class and are holding hostage the extension of their tax cuts in order to wrangle more disposable income for the wealthiest Americans.
And tea partyers should be reeling if they thought that a shift to Republicans in so many congressional districts would lead to less spending and more control of the nation’s debt. Giving more walking-around money to the super-rich by extending their 2001 tax cuts will increase the national debt by $700 billion over 10 years.
Sure, we can borrow it from China — and our kids can try to pay it back — but it hardly seems worthwhile just so the wealthy can buy more “Miraculous” push-up bras.
Andrew Jackson once said that when laws “make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society have a right to complain of the injustice to their government.” In this last election, the humble members of society did complain. But the rich continue to get richer on the backs of the poor.
And for that, the rich are thankful.
Joseph Sabino Mistick, a lawyer, law professor and political analyst, lives in Squirrel Hill. E-mail him at: [email protected]