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Monday, April 24, 2006

Tax Season in the White House - by Christopher Brauchli

That?s the state to live and die in . . . . r-r-rich.
--Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend
 
Once again the tidings of the season and the news from the news reminded one and all that it is better to be rich than to be poor. The week ended with news of the Cheneys? tax refund and began with stories in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reminding us that the rich get richer and the rest don?t.
 
The Cheney news was that Dick and Lynne Cheney would be getting a $1.9 million tax refund because they had overpaid their estimated taxes. They were simply getting back their own money. Being slightly more money than many of my readers anticipate receiving in wages for the foreseeable future, to say nothing of tax refunds, it highlighted the difference between Dick and Lynne, and the rest of us. The refund has nothing to do with the pay Mr. Cheney got for being vice president, which is only $205,031, nor does it have anything to do with $211,465 of deferred compensation he received from Halliburton that a White House spokesman pointed out has nothing to do with Halliburton?s performance or earnings. It had to do with profits Mr. Cheney realized when he exercised stock options given him when he left Halliburton. The White House spokesman forgot to say those profits had something to do with Halliburton?s performance and earnings since they affect the stock price. (Halliburton and the Iraqis have been the principal beneficiaries of Mr. Bush?s invasion of Iraq. Thanks to Mr. Bush?s post-war planning, Halliburton stock has proved to be worth more than Iraqi lives).
 
The Wall Street Journal depressed retired readers by pointing out in discouraging detail what many retirees had already discovered. A cutback in medical benefits promised upon retirement does not affect all retirees equally.
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