For those of you who were confused, that was an article in today’s New York Times complaining about the lack of tax cuts in the two reform proposals offered by the president’s advisory panel last week.
For those that missed it, Edmund L. Andrews wrote a piece this morning about the recommendations of this panel for future reforms to America’s tax code. In it, he appeared disappointed that there were no significant tax cuts being proposed:
“However sensible those ideas may be, they fall far short of a radical overhaul. Neither of the proposals would have replaced today's system with a flat tax or a pure consumption tax, the goal of many Republican conservatives. More important, neither of the proposals would significantly lower existing tax rates - a crucial attraction of the 1986 overhaul.”
Picking up on a Wednesday Washington Post story about how “the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe,” on Inside Washington this weekend NPR’s Nina Totenberg declared her shame of her country: “We have now violated everything that we stand for. It is the first time in my life I have been ashamed of my country." Totenberg’s first thought about Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito: "We know he's very conservative." She also managed to squeeze in her near-weekly blast at tax cuts as she chided the Senate for how it “cut $35 billion from the poorest people in the country and food stamps and things like that and at the same time they're going to try to cut, boost tax, tax cuts for the wealthiest people in this country by $70 billion." In fact, the Senate proposal is only an effort to slow the rate of spending growth.
Appearing on the same show, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas asserted that Bush’s decision to dump Harriet Miers “takes him from stand-up guy to tool of the right.” Thomas urged Bush to move left and drop Rove who “is the problem because Rove's entire engine is to polarize the country.” Thomas recommended: “If he's ever going to moderate, and if he's ever going to create any kind of national unity, Rove is going to have to go."
Video of Totenberg’s “ashamed” comment, in Real or Windows Media. [UPDATE, 9:25pm EST Saturday: Version of show with ads ends seconds before Totenberg's "ashamed" remark. Details below.]
For those who have read or seen a lot of press reports since the announcement of the indictments against I. Lewis Libby on Friday, you have likely observed a growing number of quotes from White House “aides” and “insiders” concerning a state of panic and disarray within the administration. Yet, most of these reports do not give the names of the sources, and, instead, suggest that the informants wish to retain anonymity due to the current environment within the White House.
In the upcoming issue of Newsweek, senior editor Jonathan Alter suggests that the tactics of the Bush administration have acted to lessen democracy in America.
Totenberg’s been on a crusade. On the same show last month, as detailed in a September 24 NewsBusters posting, she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks, to pay for Katrina recovery, as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." A week earlier, she asserted that President Bush’s New Orleans speech “would have been a great opportunity to say, 'look, I'm for tax cuts, but we need a Katrina tax, we need to really pay, to do this and to pay for it.’" And two weeks before that, as recounted with a video clip on NewsBusters, Totenberg blamed tax cuts for the levee breakage: “For years, we have cut our taxes, cut our taxes and let the infrastructure throughout the country go and this is just the first of a number of other crumbling things that are going to happen to us.”
Spending federal money without raising taxes? Broadcasters have been incredulous at the thought, especially since Hurricane Katrina hit – so much so that 59 percent of their tax-related stories have suggested tax hikes. Reporters turned to everyone from Bill Clinton to the man on the street to fellow journalists to make the case for taxation.
A typical question from a network reporter showed annoyance at the president’s tax policy and implied that anything but raising taxes is irresponsible, sounding something like this: “The last thing in the world that George W. Bush wants to do is raise taxes, but the amount of money that we’re talking about here, we’re talking about many, many, many tens of billions of dollars. Can that be done without raising taxes?” That was ABC’s Ted Koppel following Bush’s address to the nation on September 15. Journalists made sure the audience didn’t forget several things – namely, that Americans are paying for military operations in Iraq and that the United States has a deficit. As the Free Market Project has shown reporters frequently refer to deficits as if they are inherently bad, though they are actually a small percentage of a multitrillion-dollar economy and should not inspire panic.
No matter how much she gets for her state, it’s never enough.
A week after NPR’s Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington, urged imposition of a “Katrina tax,” on the same show this weekend she dismissed the idea of cancelling $24 billion of transportation bill earmarks as small change and suggested that “if you canceled the tax cuts, you'd get $225 billion." She rejected the contention that would hurt the economy and forwarded the standard liberal class warfare argument that “if people who are richer in this country don't pay more, we can't take it out of the hides of poor people, which is what the conservative group that is actually in Congress that's put out earmarks of what they think we ought to cut -- Medicaid, Medicare.”
Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, soon chimed in to point out how “there's no law in the Bible that says a Republican can never raise taxes." He recalled how “Ronald Reagan raised taxes, you know, he cut taxes, but then he raised taxes. George Bush, the father, raised taxes.”
Complete transcript of the remarks by Totenberg and Thomas follow. UPDATE: On another weekend TV talk show, the McLaughlin Group, Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift also looked to undoing tax reductions to pay for Katrina.
In its September 19 editorial entitled “Taking Full Responsibility” – an altogether too obvious reference to President Bush’s hurricane mea culpa - the New York Times continued what appears to be a full-court press on Congress to raise taxes in order to pay for the future costs of New Orleans reconstruction. In the view of the Times editorial staff, the economic health of the nation is at stake.
To drive the point home, the Times relied heavily on some rather tired cliches about tax cuts only helping the rich and budget deficits causing interest rates to rise, while swirving in and out of sound fiscal reasoning whenever it was necessary or convenient.
On the one hand, the Times is not opposed to the government borrowing money:
“Don't get us wrong. In the main, it makes sense to borrow for huge, vital and unexpected projects (World War II comes to mind). Such borrowing spreads the immense costs over generations, all of which presumably benefit from the extraordinary spending.”
Colorado will consider a major tax increase this fall, loosening the tight taxing and spending restrictions known as the TAxpayers' Bill Of Rights, or TABOR. Some of the money raised in Referendum C will be earmarked for roads in Referenum D. As part of its attempt to influence - er, inform - the public, the Denver Post today ran the first of a four-part series, "The Truth About TABOR."
Tax cuts have been the latest craze in gas price management, but CNN’s Miles O’Brien suggested on the September 8 “American Morning” that raising taxes might be the way to go.
“I think there’s a lot of people who’d tell you long-term, raising the gas tax would be a good idea,” O’Brien said. Andy Serwer replied, “Oh yeah. That’s right. But it’s politically suicidal to suggest that, as we’ve seen.”