Tax code shock and awe


Michelle Goldberg
November 18, 2004 8:01PM (UTC)

So many times over the past four years, we've thought ourselves beyond the point where we could be shocked by the administration's schemes. Each time, though, we've misunderestimated our president, who continues to amaze us with his audacity.

The latest example comes from a plan for overhauling the tax code floated in today's Washington Post. According to the paper, Bush wants to " shield interest, dividends and capitals gains from taxation," and expand tax breaks for business investment. Of course, we knew all that -- this is a president who, in the words of John Edwards, believes in taxing work, not wealth. The stunner comes from how the administration is thinking of paying for these giveaways. According to a Bush advisor, the Post says, "the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns and scrapping the business tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance."

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The first part would screw the blue states, especially urbanites who pay high city taxes to support municipal services. The truly evil surprise, though, is the second part. At a time when millions of Americans are without health insurance, the Bush administration is actually talking about eliminate the tax incentive for employers to cover their workers, in order to give even more tax breaks to the rich. Says Atrios, the blogger and economist, "bye bye health insurance for a hell of a lot of people."


Michelle Goldberg

Michelle Goldberg is a frequent contributor to Salon and the author of "Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism" (WW Norton).

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