Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

EDITORIAL >> Forgotten Americans

Hereís a thought this holiday weekend: Why isnít anybody around here looking out for the little guy or gal these days?

The fat cats in Washington are helping themselves to billions of dollars worth of special projects ó from bridges to nowhere to museums to local notables ó but here we are, working longer and harder, and weíre still sending too much of it to Washington and Little Rock and spending whatís left at the gas pump.

Oh, sure, thereís symbolic tax relief now and then, but the bureaucrats and the fat cats and the oil companies are doing very well for themselves, but not the forgotten American.

If you earn a few thousand dollars a year, you will be happy to know that the federal government is going to cut your taxes by $15 to $40 a year starting in January. You can thank President Bush and a generous Congress, which included this round of tax cuts in 2001. It is one of the last tax cuts for the wealthy to be phased in from four rounds of tax cuts in the presidentís first term.

If your annual earnings are in the millions of dollars, you have more to be thankful for. You can keep a few thousand dollars more of your hard-earned coupons starting in January.

If you are among the lowest 97 percent of earners, this round is not for you.

The first President Bush in 1991 signed a law phasing out some deductions and exemptions for very high incomes to make the tax code fairer for working people and to reduce the ballooning budget deficit. One of his sonís first acts as president was to repeal his dadís good work and reinstate high-income allowances for itemized deductions and personal exemptions.

Here in Arkansas nearly all the tax benefits will go to a few of the stateís great personal fortunes. The idea is that some of them might turn around and invest the savings in a way that will create jobs for the rest of us.

Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, are trying to get Congress to repeal the tax cuts before they take effect in January, which would stop further swelling of the federal budget deficit or perhaps protect some Medicaid medical benefits or student loans for Arkansas kids.

Congress seems to be in no mood to attend to such trifling concerns, but our senators might appreciate having it brought to their attention.