Let me put it this way.

We are under attack by fanatic, delusional mass murderers. American workers are being laid off by the hundreds of thousands. Small and shaky enterprises (albeit not the IBMs, GMs and GEs) are in peril of going under.

This must be our finest hour.

Nothing less is called for. The leaders of the House of Representatives, Dick Armey, Tom Delay, Bill Thomas, et al, convene to focus on the emergency. Every tax-dollar is precious. And so, in order to get Americans back to work and relieve the suffering, they conclude:

Let’s send $1.4 billion to IBM. They don’t need it, they won’t hire a single new worker because of it, but let’s do it anyway. And let’s send $833 million to GM. They don’t need it, either. They won’t hire a single new worker because of it, either. Let’s send $671 million to GE. GE earned more than $13 billion in the last 12 months, so they don’t need another $671 million. But what else do we have to spend it on? Emergency loans for small businesses? Tax incentives to start new ventures? Renovating schools? A prescription drug plan for the elderly? Nah – not priorities. Let’s send $572 million to ChevronTexaco (now that we’ve halved the budget for alternative energy research). ChevronTexaco doesn’t need it and won’t hire a single new worker because of it, but it’s the right thing to do (for ChevronTexaco). And let’s not forget $254 million for Enron. They might need it to pay the lawyers retained to defend them from the charges the S.E.C. has leveled.

Virtually every Democrat voted against this bill and even the Wall Street Journal editorialized against it, but virtually every Republican voted for it and the White House cheered them on.

How much clearer can it get?

Of course, there is more to the Republican bill than its retroactive repeal of the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax. There is also the provision to extend a tax break for companies that keep their profits abroad rather than investing them here at home. How would that perk up our economy? And there is a tax break for new investments made within the next three years. But experts suggest that by making it three years instead of one, you give business an incentive to hold off making investments. (Why risk the investments now, when demand is low? Better to wait a couple of years. No rush to pump money into the economy now – the tax incentive will still be there.)

So, c’mon. Is this tax bill really the best we can do? Does it make you feel more confident about the prospects for your own finances?


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