"Maybe We Deserve to Be Ripped Off By Bush's Billionaires"

Is there anything more relevant to the state of our republic than the price we pay for our government via taxation?

Yes, there is the "War of Terror," as Sacha Baron Cohen calls it, which speaks volumes about the current state of affairs, and the Bush Administration's honesty and competence, or lack thereof.

But the story about the war is as much about the cost in lives -- 3,156 US soldiers and 655,000 Iraqis -- as it is about the opportunity cost of spending $369 billion and counting on guns instead of butter, or health, education, roads, etc.

Most of us have a vague sense that our tax policies aren't particularly fair or equitable. One would expect this given that tax laws are written by politicians who are mostly beholden to a small class of wealthy elites. We know that the war is expensive, but we like our tax cuts as much as the next guy, even if they benefit the wealthy few more than they benefit us.

But as Matt Taibbi writes, tax cuts for the rich look to get obscenely worse if Bush has his way. And we'll all pay dearly for it.
George Bush's proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press ... is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

Not only does it make many of Bush's tax cuts permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the richest people in this country. The proposed savings from the cuts over the next decade are about $442 billion, or just slightly less than the amount of the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses). But what's interesting about these cuts are how Bush plans to pay for them.

[Senator Bernie] Sanders's office came up with some interesting numbers here. If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.

Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That's more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period.