But first . . .

Do you seriously think the young founders of Google would have founded Google, thus creating thousands of jobs and boosting our economy, if the tax rate on long-term gains had been 20%? If dividends had been taxed as ordinary income? Would they have even bothered?

Or so seems to go the Party line (not our Party, you know which Party) – as confirmed on Sunday’s Meet the Press by third highest ranking Senate Republican, Rick Santorum.

Each time challenger Bob Casey said he’d shrink the budget deficit by rolling back the tax cut on income above $200,000, Santorum – incredulous at Casey’s economic naiveté – muttered something about ‘killing economic growth.’

Right? Why would anybody bother to start or try to expand a business if the tax rates on income above $200,000 were what they were from 1993 to 2000? (Except wait: weren’t those great years for new-business formation?)

Why would anyone have even gotten out of bed in the Fifties and Sixties, when the top federal bracket was 90% (and then 70%) and the top capital gains rate was 36% (and then 28%)? (Except wait: weren’t those decades of considerable energy and growth as well?)

No one I know is advocating a return to the crazy tax rates of the Fifties and Sixties and Seventies.

Almost no one I know is even advocating a roll back of the tax cuts on that portion of your income that falls below the first $100,000 or $200,000.

But what if – since we’re at war and deep in deficit, and since the ever more grotesque inequality gap is threatening the very character of our nation – what if we rolled back the tax cuts on that portion of your income above $200,000?

Republicans scoff. Better, they say, to cut taxes on the wealthy further – for example, eliminating the estate tax on billionheirs. This, in fact, is something the Republicans are so keen on doing they’d even be willing, grudgingly, to hike the minimum wage for the first time in a decade if that’s what it takes. (But without zeroing out the estate tax on the megarich, they won’t budge on the $5.15 an hour minimum wage.)

Happy Labor Day.

Greg Palast, author of the newly released best-seller Armed Madhouse, puts it this way:

. . . the USA now has more millionaires than ever — 7.4 million! And over the past decade, the number of billionaires has more than tripled, 341 of them! If that doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing out, this should: You, Mr. Median, are earning, after inflation, a little less than you earned when Richard Nixon reigned. . . . Since the Bush Putsch in 2000, median income has fallen 5.9%.

. . . Is America getting poorer? No, just its people, We the Median. In fact, we are producing an astonishing amount of new wealth in the USA. We are a lean, mean production machine. Output per worker in BushAmerica zoomed by 15% over four years through 2004. Problem is, although worker productivity keeps rising, the producers are getting less and less of it.

. . . It used to be that as the economic pie got bigger, everyone’s slice got bigger too. No more.

The One Percent have swallowed your share before you can get your fork in.

Randy Kirchhof: This paragraph that caught my eye: ‘Since 1990, the overall CEO-worker pay gap in the United States has grown from 107-to-1 to last year’s 411-to-1. . . . [And] if the minimum wage had risen at the same pace as CEO pay, it would now stand at $22.61 per hour . . .’

☞ But the Republicans hold the line at $5.15.

And now . . .


M.J. Sweeney: ‘Did you notice W’s lie, in his interview Brian Williams, that he hadn’t even thought of toppling Saddam until after 9/11?’

☞ Actually: yes. Less than two weeks after his inauguration – and despite urgent warnings about Bin Laden – the agenda for his first National Security Council meeting was all about Iraq, not a word about Bin Laden.


Robert Kuttner, in very small part: ‘ . . . there are plenty of jokes (‘Bush is a heartbeat away from the presidency’). But you can count serious newspaper or magazine articles on Cheney’s operation on the fingers of one hand . . . Cheney’s the real president. It’d be nice if the press noticed.’ It’s worth reading his whole argument.


Frank Rich was even better than usual Sunday on Rumsfeld, Islamo-Fascism, Nazi appeasers, and the occupation.


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