FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush, the Good Samaritan for Corporations

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

“A certain Samaritan. . . had compassion on him.”

The Holy Bible: Luke

Even absolutely terrible events have silver linings. Hurricane Katrina is an example. It demonstrated, to the surprise at least of this writer, that George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress not only have hearts- they have compassion. And their compassion was demonstrated in two completely unexpected but nonetheless, welcome ways (not including Mr. Bush’s inspiring words spoken from New Orleans days after the crisis in order to show that he was determined to restore his popularity even if it meant sending more federal funds to New Orleans than he had already promised.) The first was Mr. Bush’s courageous proclamation that, while not the equivalent of Mr. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, was nonetheless significant and, like the Emancipation Proclamation, addressed the state of the less privileged members of society. He suspended provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act.

The Davis-Bacon Act mandates, among other things, that employers working in a locale pay all their employees working on federally financed construction projects the locally prevailing wage. As a result of his generous proclamation, those persons living in New Orleans who may have lost all their worldly possessions as a result of Katrina’s devastation will now be able to participate in federally funded reconstruction projects and earn considerably less than would have been the case had the act not been suspended.

That seems harsh but there is, of course, an upside. They will get some income. Mr. Bush no doubt believed that unless he issued the proclamation New Orleans would never be rebuilt since no contractor in his or her right mind would want to pay the substantially prevailing wage to workers who had just lost all their worldly possessions and were, among other things, not in a position to bargain since they desperately needed the jobs.

Workers are not the only ones who benefit from the proclamation. The proclamation will save us all money. Reducing the wages of those wiped out by the flood means the work will cost less. Here’s why.

Halliburton, (among other Bush friendly companies) has reportedly received a no bid contract worth $30 million to help rebuild New Orleans. By not paying prevailing wages Halliburton can do more work for less cost and pass along the savings to taxpayers. The fact that Pentagon audits say Halliburton still has $1.03 billion in “questioned” costs and $422 million in “unsupported” costs for its work in Iraq is no reason to think it won’t do better in New Orleans. It has learned from its mistakes and, being anxious to make a good impression on taxpayers, will almost certainly pass along the savings to taxpayers in reduced costs rather than to its stockholders in increased dividends.

Mr. Bush is not the only one taking steps to help out the flood victims. Republican members of Congress have stepped up to the plate with proposals to ease the pain of those devastated by the flood. One of their most creative addresses the burden of the federal estate tax.

The federal estate tax stated is imposed on the estates of individuals who die owning assets valued at more than $1.5 million. (There are ways around it but for our purposes they are unimportant.) A 40-member Republican study group is circulating proposals it hopes will help flood victims. Among them is the proposal that the estate tax not be imposed on the estates of those who died in states affected by the storm. The sigh of relief that will be heard if this proposal becomes law will be audible even to those living in far off places. Here’s why.

The families of those whose corpses were seen floating around in New Orleans or propped up against fences for days after the flood or who were found in houses unable to escape the water will be spared paying estate tax on the millions they left to their heirs. It is, of course, possible, that some of those who died in the floodwaters in New Orleans and elsewhere did not, for whatever reason, have $1.5 million in assets. They will, therefore, not benefit from this particular proposal should it become law. For the others who were unable to leave the flooded area because lacking a car or bus fare (their $1.5 million being in a bank or stock account not readily accessible over the weekend before the hurricane struck) their families will have to pay no estate tax thus placing them on a par with the families who drowned leaving behind no assets for their families.

These proposals, two among many, will improve the lives of hurricane victims and demonstrate to all but the most skeptical that the Republicans are not only compassionate but capable of responding to the needs of hurricane victims in ways that are nothing if not creative. Some might call them nothing. They may be right.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu or through his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 01, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Hillary: Ordinarily Awful or Uncommonly Awful?
Rob Urie
Liberal Pragmatism and the End of Political Possibility
Pam Martens
Clinton Says Wall Street Banks Aren’t the Threat, But Her Platform Writers Think They are
Michael Hudson
The Silence of the Left: Brexit, Euro-Austerity and the T-TIP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Marx on Financial Bubbles: Much Keener Insights Than Contemporary Economists
Evan Jones
Ancillary Lessons from Brexit
Jason Hirthler
Washington’s Not-So-Invisible Hand: It’s Not Economics, It’s Empire
Mike Whitney
Another Fed Fiasco: U.S. Bond Yields Fall to Record Lows
Aidan O'Brien
Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment
Jeremy R. Hammond
How Turkey’s Reconciliation Deal with Israel Harms the Palestinians
Margaret Kimberley
Beneficial Chaos: the Good News About Brexit
Phyllis Bennis
From Paris to Istanbul, More ‘War on Terror’ Means More Terrorist Attacks
Dan Bacher
Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture
Ishmael Reed
OJ and Jeffrey Toobin: Black Bogeyman Auctioneer
Ron Jacobs
Let There Be Rock
Ajamu Baraka
Paris, Orlando and Turkey: Displacing the Narrative of Western Innocence
Pete Dolack
Brexit Will Only Count If Everybody Leaves the EU
Robert Fantina
The First Amendment, BDS and Third-Party Candidates
Julian Vigo
Xenophobia in the UK
David Rosen
Whatever Happened to Utopia?
Andre Vltchek
Brexit – Let the UK Screw Itself!
Jonathan Latham
107 Nobel Laureate Attack on Greenpeace Traced Back to Biotech PR Operators
Steve Horn
Fracked Gas LNG Exports Were Centerpiece In Promotion of Panama Canal Expansion, Documents Reveal
Robert Koehler
The Right to Bear Courage
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Spin Masquerading as Science Courtesy of “Shameful White Men of Privilege”
Eoin Higgins
Running on Empty: Sanders’s Influence on the Democratic Party Platform
Binoy Kampmark
Who is Special Now? The Mythology Behind the US-British Relationship
Mark B. Baldwin
Russia to the Grexit?
Andrew Wimmer
Killer Grief
Manuel E. Yepe
Sanders, Socialism and the New Times
Franklin Lamb
ISIS is Gone, But Its Barbarity Still Haunts Palmyra
Mark Weisbrot
A Policy of Non-Intervention in Venezuela Would be a Welcome Change
Matthew Stevenson
Larry Cameron Explains Brexit
Cesar Chelala
How Tobacco Became the Opium War of the 21st Century
Joseph Natoli
How We Reached the Point Where We Can’t Hear Each Other
Andrew Stewart
Skip “Hamilton” and Read Gore Vidal’s “Burr”
George Wuerthner
Ranching and the Future of the Sage Grouse
Thomas Knapp
Yes, a GOP Delegate Revolt is Possible
Gilbert Mercier
Democracy Is Dead
Missy Comley Beattie
A Big F#*K You to Voters
Charles R. Larson
Mychal Denzel Smith’s “Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: a Young Black Man’s Education”
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Four Morning Ducks
David Yearsley
Where the Sidewalk Ends: Walking the Bad Streets of Houston’s Super-Elites
Christopher Brauchli
Educating Kansas
Andy Piascik
The Hills of Connecticut: Where Theatre and Life Became One
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail