by Jim Hightower
Sometimes, political posturing reaches a level that makes me go from merely gritting my teeth… to wanting to puke. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s precisely how I feel as I see the White House engaged in a vile, disgusting betrayal of AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s military veterans. Yes, the very Bushites who constantly exhort you and me to “support our troops” and who crassly pose George W in front of the troops for his political gainÃ¢â‚¬”these duplicitous game-players are going all out to kill legislation that would give a simple measure of fairness to some 700,000 disabled and desperate veterans. These are front-line, career soldiers who were injured in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and other wars. Yet, under an old law, these aging veterans are having their retirement pay docked for every dollar they get in disability benefits. In short, they are forced to pay for their own disabilities, which they incurred in military service to their country. A large, bipartisan majority in Congress supports a bill to fix this, providing full pension and disability for these deserving vets. Bush himself promised in the 2000 campaign to rectify the unfairness, and he pledged just before being sworn in that “promises made to our veterans will be promises kept.”He lied. The White House now promises to veto the bill. Pentagon chief Donnie Rumsfeld even went to Congress in July to tell lawmakers personally that Bush would slap the vets with the veto, declaring that the billÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s five-billion-dollar-a-year cost would break the budget. The bitter unfairness and raw stupidity of that statement is breathtaking. Rumsfeld routinely throws hundreds of billions of dollars at fat-cat Pentagon contractors to make overpriced and unneeded weaponry, but when it comes to real need and doing what’s right, he suddenly turns into a penny-pincher.
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not just pukeÃ¢â‚¬”letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s support the vets! Call the White House comment line: 202-454-1111.
FUN WITH STATISTICS
Congratulations… the recession is over! In fact, it ended almost two years ago, according to an official committee composed of seven economists and called the National Bureau of Economic Research, which asserts that the recession ended in November of 2001. What? You say youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re out of work and canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even get an interview, much less a new job? You say your 401(k) is now only a (k) and that personal bankruptcies are rampant? You say that nearly two million jobs have been lost since November Ã¢â‚¬â„¢01, that corporations are still dumping 200,000 workers a month, and that longterm unemployment is the highest in decades? You say that corporations are now sending our high-tech jobs out of the country? You say these seven economists should have to wear polka-dotted clown suits and sport Pinnochio noses when they talk such nonsense? Now, nowÃ¢â‚¬”itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not their fault. In dating business cycles, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re legally restricted to a technical, academically-narrow definition of recession that bears no relationship to what you might call “reality.” After all, in the Ivory Tower or on the heights of Wall Street, terms like “jobless recovery” can be tossed around cavalierly, for itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not they or people they know who are jobless, so such things are merely statistical curiosities rather than economic nightmares. Indeed, a top economist at the Bank of America said that the Bureau’s official declaration of the recessionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s end is useful because it “should help confidence on the part of businesses, investors, and consumers.” Yoo-hoo, economists! Down here at the ground level, economic confidence usually involves having reliable income, which means, “A steady job at good pay.”
CHILDREN OF W.
Taxes might be one of the few things in life that are certain, but taxes certainly donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to be as grossly unfair as the political Scrooges in Washington make them. Take, for example, the massively regressive tax giveaways that Bush and his plutocratic cohorts in both parties have enacted. Having shoved the vast preponderance of this money up to the wealthiest Americans, they then tossed a political sop to middle-class families in the form of a $400 tax credit for children. They even touted this sop as deliverance on George W.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s favorite piece of political rhetoric: “Leave No Child Behind.” ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a sweet slogan, but their delivery on it hit a sour note when it was revealed that they had, in fact, left lots of children behindÃ¢â‚¬”for example, the children in 6.5 million low-income working families were not included in BushÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bill. Public outrage at this exclusion has forced the senate, under unrelenting pressure by Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, to pass another bill belatedly extending the child tax credit to these children. The House, however, where ideologically-extreme Scrooges rule the roost, has refused to include the low-income children. “AinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to happen,” barked a smirking Tom DeLay, the Republican majority leader, who is nuttier than a whole peanut factory. He says that low-income working families donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t deserve the child tax credit because they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pay taxes. Earth to Tom: While they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pay federal income taxes, a disproportionate amount of their meager incomes go to pay sales taxes and other assessments. Add up all the taxes, and the poor pay a bigger percentage of their incomes than do the rich. As for who “deserves” the tax credit, a million of the families Bush is scorning are U.S. military personnel, including 250,000 children of our soldiers who are on active duty. The next time Bush uses his leave-no-child-behind lineÃ¢â‚¬”remember these children he left out.
Jim Hightower is a speaker and author. To order his books or schedule him for a speec, visit www.jimhightower.com. To subscribe to his newsletter, the Hightower Lowdown, call toll-free 1-866-271-4900.