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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The $70 Billion Tax Cut: Irresponsible and Obscene

Here we are six months before a mid-term election, with polls showing only about 20 percent of the American public approving the job Congress is doing. Small wonder. The federal budget deficit is still out of control. We’ve got a war going on that’s not going well, and the military is spending over a half a trillion dollars a year. Meanwhile, public services are being slashed. So what’s Congress about to give us? A $70 billion tax cut.
 
The tax cut would be politically irresponsible, but not obscene, if it were going to middle-income workers now facing sky-high fuel prices and soaring health-insurance costs, and variable-rate mortgage payments heading through the roof.
 
But this tax cut is not going to the middle class. Like the Bush Administration’s previous tax cuts, most of this one is going to people who are already very comfortable. Hence, it’s both irresponsible and obscene.
 
The non-partisan Urban Institute - Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center examined its provisions, including a two-year extension of capital gains and dividend tax cuts, and a one-year extension of relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax. It turns out a whopping 87 percent of the benefits of this tax cut will go to the 14 percent of American households earning above $100,000 a year. Twenty-two percent of the benefits will go to the richest two-tenths of one percent of American households earning more than a million dollars a year.
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