Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Bush Tax System: Who Benefits; Who Pays?

Harold Meyerson argues that Bush's tax policies are (surprise) good for rich investors, but bad for those who actually work for a living
Bush tax policy rewards investment and inheritance. Relying on work for your income, by contrast, turns you into a second-class citizen.

In his first round of tax cuts in 2001, Bush got Congress to phase out the estate tax by 2010. Last year, with Republicans in control on Capitol Hill, he reduced the top tax rate on dividends from 39.6 percent to 15 percent, and brought the capital gains tax rate down from 20 percent to 15 percent as well.

This year, his new budget proposes that families be allowed to shield as much as $30,000 yearly on their investment income, which will abolish all remaining taxes on such income. Meanwhile, the income tax cuts to most middle-class families don't exceed a couple of hundred dollars, and payroll taxes for employees remain untouched
And to the extent Bush's policies promote job growth, those jobs aren't growing in the U.S.
To say that reality is lagging behind the theory of investment-led growth, then, is to understate. The problem is that to invest today in stocks or mutual funds doesn't mean you're investing in job creation in the United States.

Outsourcing has turned the phrase "investment-led growth" into the grimmest of oxymorons. It means that Bush's tax policy subsidizes job growth in India and China rather than the United States. And in failing to create more employment here at home, the tax cuts have also helped depress wages. Real wages in the United States actually fell 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.