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Capitol Hill Shop Steward

So, Who Represents Us?
Tax Cut

As featured in
Labor Party Press

Tax the Rich ....

In case you didn’t notice it, the International Labor Organization released a report back on Labor Day that exposed one of the dirtiest little secrets of the United States. The report explained how people in our country now work longer than anyone else in the industrial world, averaging 1,966 hours per year. That’s an increase of 83 hours per year just since 1980. Congratulations, everyone! Now get back to work.

The average working person already knows that we work too much. Except for the unemployed, who would be glad to work at all. So what have our lawmakers been doing about this national disgrace? You guessed it — nothing.


Instead, the big political topic of discussion here in Washington, D.C., has been "tax cuts." A greedy Big Business tax cut scheme flew through the House of Representatives on July 22, picking up the votes of 217 Republicans and six Democrats. Just eight days later, the Senate followed suit, passing the same disgraceful plan with the support of 52 Republicans, four Democrats, and the new Independent super-conservative Senator Bob Smith from New Hampshire. The Republican robbery plot was, thankfully, inked out by President Clinton’s veto pen on September 23.

Make no mistake about it, though: The same corporate lobbyists who dreamed up this tax cut rip-off are guaranteed to be back for another stab at it. In the meantime, the Republicans will gleefully use the Clinton veto as a campaign issue. Look, they’ll say, at how this big-spending Democrat refused to cut taxes for us good working people.

So let’s take a look at the tax legislation so enthusiastically supported by Big Business Republicans.

  • First of all, it would have cost the government almost $800 billion over a ten-year span.

  • The big tax "surplus" the GOP wants to "cut" is mostly a prediction. The Republican members of Congress who helped create our massive federal debt, then complained about it constantly, are the same forces pushing for this enormous tax reduction.

  • Of the $792 billion projected to be part of the tax cut, $523 billion would have gone to the richest 10 percent of taxpayers. The wealthiest one percent of taxpayers would have netted about $46,000 per year! As for you and me, we would get squat — about $160 per year. That’s $3.07 per week, or enough money to send the Labor Party a nice contribution and then take the family out to dinner — but only once a year.

  • Ignored by the media is the fact that almost 20 percent of the total "tax cuts" the GOP proposed were actually new and expanded forms of corporate welfare. Big companies like General Motors, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Tyson Foods lined up special deals to drastically reduce their own taxes.

Now you might be wondering what the Democrats were doing to try to stop this crime in progress. A good number did a half-decent job of trying to expose this corporate scheme to rip off taxpayers. But some Democrats opposed the Republican plan by trying to substitute a watered down version that would only give rich people about half as much as the Republican plan. And as you can see from the congressional votes, a handful of Democrats decided to go for the extreme Republican plan itself.


What’s wrong with this picture? It’s obvious. The Republicans have a very clear idea of what they want, and they’re willing to fight and even lose for it. They want to deliver billions of dollars to the corporate forces who put them into office, and even when they fail, they create a campaign issue to use against the Democrats. You have to at least give these guys credit for having a plan.

This entire tax battle is another fine example of the failure and inability of the Democrats to organize a solid defense, let alone a good counterattack. Where is the Democratic leadership’s comprehensive plan to shift the tax burden from over-taxed working people to the woefully under-taxed corporations and the rich? Are the Democrats demanding an elimination of federal taxes on low-income working people? Are the Democrats proposing to close the hundreds of billions of corporate tax loopholes and corporate welfare schemes to give ordinary working families a little tax relief? Are they promoting any pro-worker solutions in a unified way? Nope.

I think that for now we can depend on the Democrats to stop a full-blown Republican raid on the U.S. Treasury. But let’s not wait around for them to mobilize working people to demand a total reconstruction of our corrupt antiworker tax system.

So when you look at your next pay stub, just remember that we won’t get a shorter workweek or a fair system of taxation until we build the Labor Party. Have you asked anyone to join the Labor Party today? What are you waiting for?

Chris Townsend is Political Action Director of the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America (UE).

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