Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Republican Taxes

In spite of the evidence, the Republican pretension that they are the party of low taxes and light government remains intact.

If you don't have a real issue, make one up, I guess.

By their incompetence alone they have created a government which is becoming more burdensome by the day, but it is not the damage of buffoonery I mean by "taxes." I am talking about real dollar payments by middle class Americans.

In some cases there are outright tax increases -- as with the loss of the sales tax deduction here in Washington. That's hundreds or thousands of dollars more you and I will owe on our federal returns next April. In other cases it is the paring back of government support, such as for child tax credits and college loan and grant supports.

Real tax hikes come in the form of deficits, too. These are taxes, just not this year. By borrowing from China, from wealthy America, and from its own social insurance funds to run the government, Bush, Inc., has effectively raised taxes on future America.

(We like to say "our children," but unless you're eighty years or older, those bonds are going to be paid back in your lifetime.)

Direct benefits to corporations through the tax code were instituted with the cuts in dividend and capital gains taxes.

These were extended last spring by Congressional action. As we've written here before, these were the highest priority of the Republican Congress. They were enacted in the spring because they couldn't stand the scrutiny of the election season. This is a direct shift of tax burden to Middle America.

But as big as these taxes are, most of the real dollars extracted by Republican legislation are paid to the corporate branch of the Party. Thus they escape attention. For Enron and Halliburton, Big Oil and Pharmaceuticals, government action has reached right into the pocket of Middle America and extracted the cash.

The hundreds of billions of dollars in excess Oil profits are taxes we pay to corporate America as a result of government (in)action.

These are taxes which result in nothing -- no schools, no roads, no police, no national defense. Considering the damage fossil fuels do to our health and environment, it is these payments which deserve the name "Death Tax."

The Great Enron Debacle was a huge tax on energy here in the West, a utility tax that drove some companies out of business and burdened households to the tune of thousands of dollars a year before the fraud was exposed. This was a direct result of corporations writing the regulations -- or in this case, the deregulations.

The Medicare Part D drug fiasco, which Central Washington's Doc Hastings played such a pivotal role in getting enacted, is a tax for the benefit of Big Pharmaceuticals.

By explicitly barring the government from using its market leverage, Congress ensured that hundreds of drugs are priced 10 to 70 percent above market value. This is shown in a recent study on the differential between Veterans Administration prices, but can also be gauged by looking at Canadian prices.

The difference is the tax.

Lastly, and most sadly, there is the tax of the Iraq War. The contribution of tens of thousands of Americans to our national future has already been lost, and every day we pay more in blood and treasure to this fiasco.

That sacrifice is trivialized by the Republicans' tax cuts for the rich. No sacrifice is expected on Wall Street or Park Avenue, even as we expect the ultimate sacrifice from these men and women.

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