More Americans have died in Iraq than in all U.S. military operations since Vietnam combined. Some states have reported their first National Guard combat deaths since World War II. The Bush administration expects tens of thousands of troops to be in Iraq well past next year.
Reserve and Guard members on extended duty in Iraq and Afghanistan have lost savings, homes and businesses. Now the Army is recalling thousands of honorably discharged soldiers who served less than eight years on active duty.
Meanwhile, millionaires are getting tax breaks.
Tax cuts for the richest 1 percent of Americans are costing about as much this year as the combined budgets for Veterans Affairs, Energy, Environmental Protection and Homeland Security. The Bush administration's "Planning Guidance for the FY 2006 Budget" projects cutbacks in all those areas plus education, housing, health care and nearly every domestic responsibility.
Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt would be appalled at President Bush's unprecedented wartime tax policies -- lining the pockets of millionaires while soldiers are in the line of fire. They understood the importance of shared sacrifice. President Bush does not.
In July 1862, President Lincoln established the first graduated income tax and taxes on inheritances and corporate dividends to finance the union in the Civil War. President Bush used the USS Abraham Lincoln, draped with a "Mission Accomplished" banner, to prematurely declare major combat operations ended in Iraq.
President Bush has been much more accomplished in his mission of major tax cuts for millionaires.
President Roosevelt raised taxes during World War II, including taxes on war profiteering. "I don't want to see a single war millionaire created in the United States as a result of this world disaster," he said.
While war profiteering has fueled anger in Iraq and America, the Bush tax cuts have helped mint more millionaires at home. The number of people in the United States with at least $1 million in financial or liquid assets (not counting home equity) jumped 14 percent last year, according to the “2004 World Wealth Report” by Merrill Lynch and the Capgemini Group.
“The Bush tax cuts, which included a reduction in the top tax rate, as well as reductions in taxes on estates, capital gains and dividends,” the Wall Street Journal reported, “helped bolster the fortunes of the fortunate.”
In 2004, households with incomes above $1 million will receive tax cuts averaging $123,600. That will cause their after-tax income to jump by more than 6 percent, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Tax cuts for the wealthy are stimulating budget cutbacks, deficits and an increasingly flat tax burden. In 2004, the richest 1 percent -- with an average income of nearly $1 million -- will pay 32.8 percent of their income in all federal, state and local taxes combined. The other 99 percent -- with an average income of $47,500 -- will pay just a little less, at 29.4 percent, Citizens for Tax Justice reports.
Already enacted tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent will cost more than $1 trillion in 2001-2010. That translates into more than $300 million in lost revenues every day for ten years. Some shared sacrifice.
The administration’s revised “Patterns of Global Terrorism” shows the number of significant terrorist attacks reached a 20-year high in 2003. U.S. troops are overtaxed abroad. Police and fire stations, schools and emergency rooms are understaffed at home. The nation is sinking deeper into a quagmire of debt.
Yet, the administration and its congressional allies are pushing even more tax cuts for high-income Americans. More tax cuts at a time when higher education has become more out of reach financially for low-income Americans -- unless they join the military.
The Bush tax cuts are widening the gap between the children of millionaires and the children of soldiers, few of them from wealthy families. The soldiers' children will have even less opportunity for higher education and career ladders outside the military than their parents did.
More and more Americans realize the Iraq war is based on false premises. Unless Bush's similarly misguided tax policies are reversed, we will pay for his mistakes for generations to come.
Holly Sklar is coauthor of Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies That Work for All Of Us (www.raisethefloor.org). Chuck Collins is co-author with Bill Gates Sr. of Wealth and Our Commonwealth. Holly Sklar can be reached at email@example.com. Chuck Collins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or United for a Fair Economy, 37 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111. Copyright (c) 2004 Holly Sklar and Chuck Collins.
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