by Jan Baughman
(Swans - August 25, 2008) President Bush was talking up the economy this June, touting the vitality that his 2001 and 2003 tax cuts created and continuing to argue that they should be made permanent. According to Bush, 70% of new jobs are created by small businesses, and 75% of the taxpayers who benefited from the reduction of the top bracket were small business owners -- the "mom and pops," not the rich, he claimed. "Why would you want to take money out of their treasury? Why wouldn't you want to encourage them to thrive by letting them keep more of their hard-earned dollars?" As it turns out, they have been keeping more of their hard-earned dollars, tax cuts or no tax cuts; temporary or permanent. A new report by the Government Accountability Office revealed that two out of three US corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005.
The New York Times reported in January of 2007 that the IRS had adopted a new policy of limiting audit cycles on corporations and rewarding employees for closing cases on time, not for conducting a thorough audit, thereby greatly limiting the unpaid taxes that could be collected. One auditor described this policy as "allow[ing] the Bush administration to achieve administratively a further easing of the corporate income tax burden far beyond what Congress has approved legislatively."
While corporations' finances continue to be sheltered from taxation and their losses are repeatedly absorbed by we the taxpayers, we are left on our own to suffer from the years of personal deficit spending the government, the lenders, and the retailers have encouraged, even coerced us to do in the name of patriotism and maintaining the strength of the economy. The so-called economic stimulus packages were dollars laundered through the hands of citizens into the pockets of corporations. Today, we find ourselves with no savings; skyrocketing debt; falling wages and the increased cost of goods and fuel; and state and local taxes on the rise in response to the economic downturn.
Will the next president, Democrat or Republican, change this disastrous course? John McCain wants to reduce corporate taxes and make Bush's tax cuts permanent, while Barack Obama says he will reverse most of the tax cuts for the wealthy. Yet both are beholden to corporate interests, the military-industrial-congressional complex, and the war economy, and the Democrat-controlled Congress has demonstrated that it cannot -- will not -- change the status quo. Just recall the 2006 "mandate" and what has transpired since (answer: increased war funding).
The free and open election of a country's leader, whether in the U.S. or in Iraq, remains the ultimate symbol of democracy. And yet, the US presidential election is neither free nor open, as the upcoming party conventions will once again demonstrate. It is not open to the People wishing to exercise free speech to influence the parties' platforms, and it's certainly closed to candidates that challenge the duopoly. While the corporate lobbyists will be present en masse and hosting festivities at next week's Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver, those wishing to voice their opinions to the delegates will be relegated, under the guise of national security interests, to a fenced-in cage out of site of the delegates, with their protest permits limited to the hours of 11 am to 3 pm, before the delegates arrive. We the People who still believe in the freedom of speech and want to participate in what is considered fringe politics are now treated as presumed terrorists.
Also in preparation for the event, Denver has prepared for the potential arrests of any over-zealous protesters by preparing a detention center of make-shift cells topped with razor wire, bearing warnings of stun-device use.
All of this is in preparation for the Democratic National Convention, where "change you can believe in" will be the party theme. Expect the same at the RNC, yet with a more genuine promise of status quo.
Despite all odds against them, there remain individuals who respect the Constitution, and continue to fight for the issues that matter to the People, not to the corporations. Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez are committed to cracking down on corporate crime and violence and ending the corporate personhood that grants the same Constitutional rights granted to real people -- except with greater political power. They would repeal the Taft Hartley anti-union law that undermines workers' interests and collective bargaining power. And they would make corporations and the wealthy pay their share of taxes.
"They'll never get elected," you say? Perhaps, but if you agree with their stance on these issues, then support their inclusion in the presidential election process. Nader and Gonzalez are staging a Super Rally in Denver on August 27 to bring attention to their candidacy and to protest the exclusion of third-party candidates from the debates.
It's time that we the People incorporate and consolidate our efforts so that we reclaim the benefits and the power, and the freedom of speech so vital to controlling the agenda, that are afforded to corporate America. It's time that we the People take back the Constitution; stop voting out of fear or the illusive promise of change, and insist that democracy is a system of, by, and for the People, not the corporations. Representation without taxation is a crime, and taxation without representation is tyranny, as we believed in the lead-up to the American Revolution.