Bush’s Death Tax
by : Wayne Besen
Wednesday September 7, 2005 - 14:07
by Wayne Besen
This may be politically incorrect, but I’m having serious qualms about writing a check for Hurricane relief. The way I see it, I already gave my fare share for the effort on April 15. This is Tax Day, the painful moment where we surrender a large chunk of our hard earned change to the federal government, so they can fix levees and plan for national emergencies.
President George W. Bush, however, decided to squander this money on tax breaks for Cappuccino Conservatives and attacking a nation in the name of 9-11 that had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. In the run-up to our superfluous war, the Pottery Barn rule was often invoked: "You break it, You own it."
Now we own it and we are broke.
Of course, the conservative game plan was always to starve the beast, meaning cut taxes to run up a massive debt, which would then give them an alibi to cut popular federal programs. But efforts to replace the New Deal with a Raw Deal meant that "Big Government" would be ill prepared to help with disasters such as New Orleans becoming Atlantis.
The President’s solution to this shortfall is rallying what he terms, "the armies of compassion". Americans have always been extraordinarily altruistic and kind in the face of tragedy and perhaps that is what I love best about my country.
However, make no mistake about it, this is not charity, this is a backdoor tax and the privatization of disaster relief. Americans are reaching into their wallets to write checks to generously pay for what the federal government should have unquestionably funded in the first place.
What rankles me the most is that this was not a natural disaster. This was a political apocalypse that should have been prevented. In 1998, a $14 billion master plan was put together called Coast 2050 that addressed how to prevent such a tragedy in New Orleans. Thanks to the fiscal shortage created by Bush’s tax windfall for Rolls Royce Republicans during a time of war, the plan to protect the city was scuttled.
In a feeble attempt to seek absolution from culpability, Bush pleaded ignorance saying, "I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the breach of the levees." Bush brags that he does not read the newspaper. Anyone who does read on a regular basis was likely aware of the catastrophic problems New Orleans faced if it encountered a major hurricane. Instead of writing a check for Hurricane victims, perhaps my money would be better spent buying the president a subscription to The Washington Post.
Bush’s cavalier attitude towards disaster preparedness is best illustrated by the way he has handled the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Scientists have warned that global warming may lead to an increase in the frequency of violent storms. While Bush may not believe in global warming, there aren’t many scientists these days who are predicting fewer storms. So, it was perplexing that the president folded FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security, an agency that is likely to prioritize terrorists over tornadoes.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman pointed out that Bush’s first appointee to run FEMA was a political buddy, Joseph Allbaugh, whose main experience in natural disasters was once leaving his umbrella at a restaurant. Allbaugh’s successor, Michael Brown’s chief qualification was that he was Allbaugh’s roommate.
With people having a difficult time believing the Bush administration could be this astoundingly incompetent, charges of racism are natural. I don’t think for a minute that Bush is a racist. However, if there was bias, it was likely based more on class and politics than race. Put the cowboy act aside, and one sees that Bush grew up as a wealthy prince. Having such a privileged background combined with an incurious mind can be lethal. Did Bush know that some people can’t afford cars and must rely on public transportation to escape?
Politically speaking, this is a long-term boon for Republicans and there was an incentive to let New Orleans sink. Poor blacks and whites will not be able to afford to move back. Notice that they got a one-way ticket to Texas. New Orleans will likely be rebuilt as a rich, white Disneyfied imitation of the original. Without a diverse New Orleans, Louisiana becomes a monolithically Republican state. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, for example, can kiss her career goodbye.
In the face of backlash, Republicans temporarily shelved their plans this week to repeal the Estate Tax, which they adroitly renamed the "Death Tax". This was a smart move because the charitable checks we are all paying to cover the destitution and carnage caused by Bush’s policies, is a "Death Tax" if I’ve ever seen one.
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