Why is Dick Cheney laughing?
First the Civil War.
And how did red-blooded Americans feel about financing the bloodiest war in U.S. history?
Instead of tax-cuts, the first national income tax was imposed.
And guess what?
The new income tax was tagged on the wealthiest 10 percent of Union households. Furthermore it was a Republican, Abraham Lincoln, who signed the income tax law in 1862.
And there was more.
The Civil War gave birth to a excise, or national sales tax. This excise tax covered everything from telegrams to yachts. It included playing cards, gunpowder, feathers, telegrams, iron, leather, pianos, billiard tables, drugs, patent medicines, and of course, tobacco and whiskey. An inheritance (or death) tax was also added.
Now does this sound familiar?
It should also be remembered that the Civil War was going to be a bargain. A rosy scenario of a painless conflict guided the Union in the beginning. In other words, like our Invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Civil War was going to be a brief and cheap affair.
The Washington “experts” had predicted the war would last a few months at the most. Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase, gave a cost of $320 million. Instead, the Civil War lasted four terrible years and cost $5 billion, more than 15 times Chase,s calculation.
And a bloody war it was.
One out of four soldiers on either side was fated to be killed or wounded.
The total population of the United States in 1860 was 32 million people and in the next four years, 359,000 Yankees and 258,000 Rebels, would be killed. (Total World War II deaths for the United States were 407,000.)
“Chickenhawks” and “Slackers”
And then there was World War I.
First we will note that instead of “chickenhawks,” World War I draft dodgers were known as “slackers.” In World War I terms, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and such would have been labeled “slackers.”
The 16th Amendment
Sensing a possible worldwide conflict, Congress and the states ratified the 16th Amendment, giving Congress the “power to lay and collect income taxes” in 1913.
The Revenue Act
Next came the 1916 Revenue Act which raised the lowest tax rate from 1 percent to 2 percent and raised the top rate to 15 percent on taxpayers with incomes in excess of $1.5 million. The 1916 Act also imposed taxes on estates and excess business profits.
With official entry into the war in 1917, personal income tax and taxes on corporate profits were raised rather then lowered. The “regular” 1 percent tax on personal income over $20,000 was hiked to 12 percent, with an additional 65 percent surtax imposed on millionaires. To add insult to injury the first permanent estate tax was enacted, and taxes were even imposed on the production of munitions. (Besides “slackers” there were a lot of complaints about “war profiteers” during World War I. Sound familiar again?)
Then there’s Iraq
Under Bush/Cheney federal tax revenues have fallen to their lowest level since 1950.
Despite such a disastrous war, Bush/Cheney and their chickenhawk/slacker following still remain obsessed with cutting taxes on large incomes, dividends, capital gains and estates, with most of the benefits going to the richest one percent. According to a congressional study the already-enacted tax cuts for this one percent will cost the treasury more than $1 trillion between 2001 and 2010.
And right now, at this very second, Iraq operations have already cost at least $112 billion with the Pentagon now admitting that this mis-adventure will be costing approximately $5 billion a month for a very long time, possibly ten or twenty years.
Bush’s 2006 Fiscal Year Budget
Just the other day, President Bush said the 2006 federal budget “is a budget that sets priorities.”
Hard to disagree with that.
One of those priorities is endless war and a gargantuan military budget, $419.3 billion to be exact. But somebody has to take care of Haliburton, Bechtel, Carlyle, Brown & Root, and the other members of Vice-President Dick Cheney’s mob. And think about all the opportunities. Like $1.7 billion to be spent on unmanned vehicles. So there will be plenty of work for the Cheney mob, another priority.
Then there is the bill for the first round of high-priority tax breaks for the big income brackets.
Or the second gift for the same high rollers, the one that virtually eliminates taxes on dividends and capital gains for those raking in $300,000 a year plus.
So, you see, somebody has to make sacrifices. And sacrifice is part of patriotism. And when it comes to sacrifices there has to be “priorities” as the president says.
Sacrifice and Patriotism
For fiscal years 2002-2004, state governments made up for $200 billion in budget shortages by raising taxes and fees or cutting services. During those same two years, the new federal tax cuts delivered about the same amount of money the states were short ($197.3 billion) to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (households making more then $337,000 a year or more).
I would call that a big priority, sending nearly $200 billion to the top 1% rather than to state governments who were $200 billion short, a decision that actually raised taxes for 99 percent of Americans or cut services. But if you are not in the priority bracket, don’t think your president forgot you.
If you made $20,000 to $25,000 a year, you got about $60 dollars in tax cuts. Be thankful and remember the example of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And don’t forget, true patriotism calls for sacrifice.
A final question?
So why are America’s “chicken hawks” and “slackers” crying the loudest for both war and tax cuts? In other words why is Dick Cheney laughing?.
JACKIE CORR lives in Butte, Montana. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org