The Four Corners

Friday, May 30, 2003

Dances With Elephants According to the Salt Lake Tribune, "Just months after President Bush took office, the Republican Party accepted a $100,000 check from an Indian tribe seeking help in getting a meeting with Interior Secretary Gale Norton, according to internal GOP records."

And surprise, surprise, "The leader of the tribe eventually got to air its concerns to the interior secretary during a congressional tour near the tribe's home in Palm Springs, California."

Now it is not all that shocking that money ($120k last year) buys access, especially when you have 14 lobbyists in DC, including a long time friend of US House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" Delay, but what is surprises is that this is the exact same thing GOPers criticized Bill Clinton for. Then again, hypocrisy

Now, I am not saying that Republicans were bribed or that Clinton was, but that this is yet another sign that McCain-Feingold (or if you prefer Shays-Meehan) is a necessary reform. Even if nothing bad happened, it is the mere appearance of impropriety that drives people away from the polls and drives us all down the spiral of government by moneyed/voting interest groups.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

George W. Bush raised your taxes Hard to imagine, given that he passed two major tax cuts in the two years since he took office. But, as they say, the Devil is in the details.

David Firestone of the New York Times reports that the latest tax cut omits working families from the child tax credit. This is the same tax credit that raises up to $1,000 per a child in 2003 and 2004, only to drop to $700 after that.

"Because of the formula for calculating the credit, most families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625 will not benefit. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, says those families include 11.9 million children, or one of every six children under 17."

I guess Republicans, do believe in family values, they just value some families over others. GOPers claim that if only Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) wasn't such a stickler for the random $350 billion number, they wouldn't have to do all these gimmicks to force the tax cuts into that figure.

The way it stands, the tax cut figure, assuming all the phase in and outs stay in their maximized and permanent form would balloon up to a whopping $800 billion to a trillion, again according to the The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. So give me a break on that fib.

While the majority was secretly rewriting the tax code in conference committee, they forgot another sock it to the poor problem-- the Alternative Minimum Tax. And before you yawn and checkout baseball scores, realize that it is going to cost you a lot of money soon.

The AMT was originally enacted in the 1970s as a way "to address the scandal of rich people managing to avoid paying any taxes whatever," as the Washington Post editorial board explained yesterday. The trouble is, the AMT was not indexed to inflation which meant instead of keeping the rich for paying nothing, it will soon make the rest of us pay more.

By 2010, 33 million taxpayers (or nearly a third) will be subject to the AMT, according to Brookings/Urban Institute Tax Policy Center. "That's 25 times as many in 2001, and almost double the number who would have been affected without the 2001 tax cut." How much more will you be paying-- an average of $1,075 for those between $50,000-$75,000 and $1,671 for those earning between $75,000 and $100,000.

Still not convinced? Try the more abstract argument. Because Bush and his Congressional allies have resisted to aid the states for the most part (the recent $20 billion of this tax bill over ten years not withstanding) right now, cash-strapped states are raising taxes directly and indirectly-- by raising user fees on everything from public parks to in-state college tuition.

Even more abstractly, by making first responders patrol our streets looking out for terrorists without even helping to defray the cost or train or inform, police officers, firefighters, and EMTs are slower to respond to normal problems. As a result, crime has dramatically increased since Bush has been sworn in, ambulances take longer to get there-- by an extra 15 minutes in crime ridden and terrorist targeted Washington DC, etc.

People are dying, Mr. President. You are raising their taxes, Mr. President, whether you face up to it or not.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Outrage of the Week: Last week's was HoDean's "Last time I looked, 15 AFSCME [a union of state and federal employees] died at the World Trade Center, I didn't see any of the staff of the DLC at the World Trade Center."

This week, the Denver Post interviewed Grover Norquist, anti-tax zealot and unofficial advisor to George W. "Change the tone in Washington" Bush, who said: "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

What?? Excuse me, but even as a non-date rape victim, I am offended by that one, even if I have no clue what he means by it, it is still disgusting.

Working with members from the other side of the aisle on important legislation is hardly slipping a roofie in a drink and taking some one upstairs.

After all, if shrill liberal Hillary Clinton can work with then Clinton impeachment manager and now fellow Senator Lindsey Graham, then why can't we all just get along?

Look for some blow back on this to come (I've got my sources).

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Holding my breath faithful readers of my posts know that I am a full fledged supporter of Gen. Wesley Clark's potential presidential candidacy.

Now more word is coming out on his apparent strategy-- let the others beat themselves silly. While the rest of the crowd proposes ridiculously complex and never going to pass multibillion-dollar plans for this and that, Clark will be humming along. While the pack tears down each other's plans and finds dirt on all of them and they all look less than presidential, Clark will come in around Labor Day on his white horse as the "savior of a Democratic Party Divided."

And before you throw up, read what DailyKos has dug up:

    "...My sources (yes, I've got them) indicate that there is a great deal of pressure within the party establishment to push Clark into the race, playing the role of savior for a party divided...."

    "A late start (and insurgent campaign, a la Dean) would spare Clark the need to raise much money, and word is that Clinton's vaunted fundraising machine would step to support a Clark candidacy. Money doesn't appear to be the biggest hurdle.

    "Organization, on the other hand, is a different matter. The nine candidacies vying for the nomination have dried up the political talent pool, or so it would seem. While many smart campaign people still abound (Garry South [CA Gov. Davis' political advisor], for one), it's clear that the most highly regarded teams are already accounted for.

    "Except for one -- the people behind Bill Clinton. Now I have heard nothing to suggest that Clinton's people (like Begala or the Rajin' Cajun) would consider a reunion tour for another Arkansas native, but it is premature to suggest that organization would be a prohibitive impediment to a Clark run."

What's more, Clark has another book coming out in, you guessed it, September and a secret website that is only partially up on his quasi-campaign/think tank "Leadership for America." Now maybe Kos is right, and Clark is only 50/50 at this point, or maybe as others have said, he is trying to raise his profile and keep his name out there as a possible VP or Sec. of State or Defense, but it looks like he wants to run to me.

Clark needs to let those-- like yours truly-- know what his true intentions are soon. Because for those of us aspiring Garry "The Mouth" South's need to get jobs with one of the other Clowns (and get excited about them) if Clark really says no, a la Al Gore. Until then, I guess I really am holding my breath...its going to be a long summer.