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||TAXING QUESTIONS! Are corporate profits over-taxed? Dont look for this press corps to limn it:|
THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2003
BOWLED OVER: To all appearances, Lou Dobbs has been bowled over by President Bushs new tax cut proposal. In the current U. S. News, he pens an 800-word review of the plana review in which some variant of bold appears five different times. Here is his opening paragraph:
DOBBS: There are a lot of surprised gasps and unsurprising partisan carping over the boldness of President Bushs economic stimulus plan. But given the challenges we now face, would a less ambitious plan have been appropriate? This economy is slowly moving forward, caught in an atypical recovery following an atypical recession. And were fighting radical Islamist terrorism worldwide and preparing for war against Iraq. In our times, bold is the only policy option.
In our times, is bold the only policy option? Obviously, no, it is not. In dealing with the federal budget, prudent would be a policy option. So would just, humane, conservative or wise. But bold is the only policy option if youre pandering to the White House by using the spin-point they have scripted. Lets just state it simply: Dobbs is. (For background, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/10/03.)
Meanwhile, at the Weekly Standard, Major Garrett kept hitting the bold key too. Headline? The Cheney Tax Cut/The hidden role of the vice president and his staff in Bushs bold plan. Like the willing foot-soldier Dobbs, The Major knows bold when he sees it:
GARRETT: Cheneys political analysis of the coming stimulus debate argued for the boldest approach possible. Why? Because, as he and his staff argued over and over, the White House would be accused of favoring the rich no matter what the proposal contained; it was pointless to sue for peace in the supposed class war. The plan had to be bold. Boldness, they said, would work, for both principled and practical reasons. First, principles are easier to defend on the stump (get ready for a variation of, Either youre for the end of double taxation of dividends, or youre not). Second, a bold plan offers more negotiating room when the final deal is struck in the Senate.
Why are Dobbs and Garrett in love with bold? Because bold is the White House word of choice. Timid fellows, they write what theyre told to.
Needless to say, the National Review has been bowled over too:
NATIONAL REVIEW: Lets not beat around the bush: The presidents new tax cut is the boldest free-market initiative since 1981, and it deserves the wholehearted support of conservatives
Dont worry. Its going to get it.
THE DUMBEST RESPONSE OF THE WEEK: Was made by Andrea Mitchell on Sundays Chris Matthews Show. A pundit noted that the Bush cuts would go in large part to high earners. This deathless exchange ensued:
MATTHEWS: Andrea, the president knew that the criticism would come to him like this, that people would say it was a rich mans tax cut.
Perfect logic! If you arent in favor of cutting taxes, that means youre in favor of raising taxes! No humansexcept for your millionaire punditsever say things quite so stupid.
MATTHEWS: Whyd he go ahead and do it against this kind of criticism?
MITCHELL: Well, first of all, its smart. And the Democrats look as though theyre what, in favor of tax increases?
ONE MAN A KING: Being a surgeon gets Bill Frist great press. Earlier this month, the press corps lauded the selfless surgeon for helping victims of a Florida car wreck (not that the selfless Frist called the press corps and told them about it, of course). In last Saturdays New York Times, Robin Toner noted the fact that Frists profession will help him score points about Medicare. She quoted some pique from the other side of the aisle:
TONER: A less amused Democratic strategist in the Senate, grumbling about the bizarre media fascination with Dr. Frists surgical side, said: Its a wonderful profession. Hes done wonderful things for people. But hes changed professions now.
Changed professions? Not at the New York Times, he hasnt. In her article, Toner notes that the selfless sawbones has asked to be referred to as Dr. Frist. Thumb through the various ironies lurking inside this paragraph:
TONER: Critics fear that Dr. Frist, as he has asked to be called, will be able to use his trustworthy doctors persona to sell a far-reaching and contentious proposal to open up Medicare to more private health plans. With Dr. Frist supporting it, how could it be wrong? Representative Jim McDermott, a liberal Seattle Democrat, said with more than a little sarcasm. The majority leaders M.D. is the Bush administrations finesse card on health care, said Mr. McDermott, himself a psychiatrist.
Frist has asked to be referred to as Dr.and the Times has now complied. According to a Nexis search, Mr. Frist last appeared in the Times back on January 5. Meanwhile, McDermotthimself a psychiatrist, Toner notesis still just good old Mr.
Back in December, John Harwood told Howard Kurtz that Frist was going to get great press (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/23/02). At the Times, its all come true; at the Times, this one man is now king. Given the obvious spinning tied into Frists request, its time the Times stopped this silly clowning. Or maybe the Times could spell things out more plainly, referring to Frist as Ol Massah.
TOO TAXING FOR THE PRESS CORPS? A heroic president is leading a fight to rid the nation of double taxation. But Robert McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice has offered an intriguing critique. When you think about it, the number of times something is taxed isnt an enlightening concept, he writes. Instead, its the total amount of taxes
that matters. Who wouldnt feel better, for instance, about paying two taxes of 10 percent each rather than a single tax of 40 percent? Here comes the nay-sayers nugget:
MCINTYRE: So the real question is: Does the so-called double tax on corporate profits cause them to be overtaxed compared to other kinds of income? It sure doesnt look that way.
McIntyres analysis of this topic is brief, and frankly, we dont quite follow his ultimate logic. On the way to his conclusion, however, he cites a well-known corporationCSXthe company run by Treasury Sec John Snow. CSX paid no taxes on its $934 million in profits over the past four years, McIntyre says. Obviously, McIntyre concludes, CSX wasnt double taxed.
As we say, we dont follow the ultimate train of thought in this piece, but the overall point is perfectly clear. Within the present system of double taxation, are corporate profits taxed more than other income? A functioning press corps would leap on that question. Our advice to you: Dont hold your breath.