Let them eat poundcake

How to take the gloat out of your Republican relatives over Thanksgiving dinner.


Joe Conason
November 26, 2004 5:16AM (UTC)

Avoiding political arguments with Republican relatives may be the best way to enjoy Thanksgiving. But what's best isn't always what's possible. In the election's immediate aftermath -- and following a big meal and a few drinks -- your most dearly beloved conservatives may not be able to resist the urge to gloat. They may even begin to lecture you about the bright future that awaits us all as George W. Bush fulfills his "mandate."

Rather than start screaming about the bloody debacle in Iraq, the nasty campaign against gays, or the pillaging of the environment, just smile and nod until your favorite 'winger pauses for breath (or a bite of pie). Then say, "I hope you're right, of course, for everybody's sake. But have you heard about the President's economic plans?"

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As soon as you have everybody's attention, politely explain what Bush and his administration plan to do to the gullible middle-class voters who re-elected him. Remind them how the President promised to make taxes "fairer" and "simpler," to make health care more widely available and to cut the deficit in half.

Nod your head and say yes, you agree, the forthcoming White House tax plan is pure simplicity. It will transfer the tax burden from the wealthy to the workers, from families with high earnings to those in the middle. That means creating new shelters for the richest taxpayers, who will be rewarded with various schemes for tax-free savings and medical accounts. Pretty fair, eh?

Assuming that your Republican relatives despise Hollywood liberals, misbehaving athletes, foul-mouthed hip-hop artists, and George Soros, it's worth pointing out that the Bush tax scheme will greatly benefit such pampered "elitists." And thanks to Bush's repeal of the estate tax, the children of those elitists may never have to pay any income taxes, let alone do any work, for the rest of their lives!

Of course, since the nation's accounts are already in the tank and the President has promised that his tax "reform" won't make matters worse, someone has to pay the difference. And unless your Bush-friendly family member drove to dinner in a Bentley, that duty will fall on him or her. To offset those generous new breaks for Soros, Barbra Streisand and Eminem, the White House wants to eliminate the deductibility of state and local tax payments. For most middle-class taxpayers that will constitute a far larger burden than any benefit from the Bush plan. (Urge everybody to check last year's tax return if they don't believe you. Have them compare the piddling interest from their savings to the amount they deducted in state and local taxes.)

Incidentally, this clever plan will shift an even greater burden onto the blue states, which already pay a disproportionate amount in federal tax revenues while getting less back. It's always good to note that those Republican red states are America's true welfare states.

And while your listeners are still chewing over that piece of gristle, gently inform them about the President's other plan to compensate for the next round of regressive tax cuts. He wants to take away their employer-sponsored health insurance.

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Although he neglected to discuss any such proposal during the presidential campaign, when he emphasized his commitment to expand health coverage, Bush reportedly plans to eliminate corporate deductions for health insurance coverage. With company health plans already under tremendous pressure from increasing costs, the elimination of deductibility will make insurance unaffordable for most companies (and will certainly give all employers an excuse for eliminating those benefits). That will leave wage and salary earners to fend for themselves against the big private insurers. Take a generous sip of chardonnay and say, "What a deal!"

Finally, don't forget to mention the President's Social Security "reform." According to the Washington Post, Bush and his advisers have finally figured out how to pay for the trillion-dollar cost of privatizing the system. They're just going to ignore it by taking the costs "off-budget." Or, as one of the plan's proponents at the Cato Institute explained, the White House economists will use "creative accounting" to hide enormous holes in future budgets.

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So smile again, a bit sardonically, as you sum up what middle-class Americans, red and blue, can expect as the second Bush regime begins: Higher taxes, exploding deficits and the end of health coverage as we know it.

There's just so much to be thankful for, isn't there?


Joe Conason

Joe Conason is the editor in chief of NationalMemo.com. To find out more about Joe Conason, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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