The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Here we go with the rich-bashing again


It didn't take long for class envy to rear its head again once the president's economic stimulus package hit Congress.

I love reading columns written by shallow thinkers and deep feelers who wring their hands in despair over the fact that the tax cuts won't provide much direct benefit to the poor.

I want to do something to get these people to stop and think logically, but the public service commercials keep warning us not to shake the baby.

Sometimes it's boring to write in a county where most of the people are conservative. I'm preaching to the choir. Most of you readers know better than I do that tax cuts don't help poor people because poor people don't pay taxes.

There are already programs in place to help poor people, and increasing the money poured down that particular hole in the ground would do absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy, except perhaps to provide a temporary spike in sales of Thunderbird and MD2020.

One columnist reeled off a list of corporations that will receive tax rebates if the president's plan is approved, apparently expecting that upon receiving this information we would all take up arms and storm the White House.

But that view will be a hard sell with the people who work for those corporations and will get to keep their jobs as a result of the rebates. And it would be a hard sell with Joe Hashslinger, who works at the local slurp-and-burp, if he had the intelligence to work through the equation.

Think back over the last few sessions of the Georgia Legislature, and the chest-thumping our representatives have been doing over the fact they were able to declare a moratorium on unemployment insurance payments by businesses. Why? Because unemployment has been at an all-time low, that's why. And since fewer people are receiving unemployment insurance, those funds are just sitting there gathering interest.

Things are a bit shaky now, and there are going to be some layoffs, but if we can reduce the effect of those layoffs, we have that many more people earning incomes and going down to the slurp-and-burp for a plate of french fries so old Joe gets to keep his job.

And maybe even some of those poor people you liberals are crying over will get some of those jobs too.

And all those people who are working, who wouldn't have been otherwise, will be paying taxes they wouldn't have paid otherwise, and they won't be applying for food stamps and other government "safety nets" they would have needed otherwise, and that frees up more safety net money for those who are still waiting in the wings.

And let's not forget the all-too-true maxim that corporations don't pay taxes anyway they merely collect them.

The tax checks that corporations write are simply another element in the prices they charge for their goods and services. You and I pay those taxes every time we buy a car or run down to the slurp-and-burp for a plate of french fries. The only difference between corporate income taxes and sales taxes is the way they're collected.

OK, I admit, I get a little steamed when I learn from some of the more enterprising columnists that there are some special targeted tax cuts and rebates that benefit businesses that have been generous to a certain party during election years, if you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to pick apart the information that is selectively included in such columns to see whether the cuts are targeted or just seem so. But here's one example: one columnist complained that eliminating the alternative minimum tax benefits numerous companies that are fairly small, and he interprets the fact that a lot of those companies are Republican donors to mean that eliminating the AMT is included in the stimulus package specifically to benefit those donors.

Or could it be that those people donate to Republicans because they agree with Republicans that the albatross of oppressive taxes should be lifted from the neck of the American economy, and they understand that a rising tide floats all the boats?

If there are targeted cuts to Bush/Cheney friends, that's going to hurt the Bush team in the next election, so it's not too smart on their part. But the net effect of giving tax cuts and rebates to businesses and to individuals who actually pay taxes will benefit us all.

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