How long has Ari Fleischer been in the private sector now? A few years? And he is right in there with the best of the Neocons, trying to bring his Cheney message of oligarchy back to public prominence. Fleischer had his fifteen minutes of celebrity as a beleaguered (though not as beleaguered as he should have been) spokesman for the granddaddy of all unpopular Presidents, George W. Bush. Now he has traded on that dismal record to establish himself as a public relations flack in D.C. for GOP supporters. In order to drum up business, presumably, he has taken on the popular Republican mantra…the rich pay too much in taxes.
I’ll say one thing for the Republicans, the Neocon-Republicans–they will go down to complete obscurity with all flags flying. They simply do not understand that when you bankrupt a country, you may, yes, keep some of the loot for a while. But then there are those unpleasant situations when you simply have to go to the supermarket and be reminded that you do not live in a country that is populated entirely by your rich friends.
Fleischer’s argument, long standing among the rich Republicans, is that they still pay too much in taxes, while the poor get off Scot free. There is no question that the poor have clout. But Fleischer’s argument may backfire on the rich. Many think that the wealthy do in fact pay too high a top rate. Some believe that the top bracket should be brought down to a reasonable 33%. Actually, one could probably make a pretty good case for the fact that no matter how wealthy you are you should never be asked to pay more than a third of your income to support the government.
Actually, to pay merely a third would make most average Europeans hysterically happy, let alone the richest among them. Of course, Europeans have free healthcare, free education, get about half their income if they are out of work, have about 40% of income as retirement and have twice as many holidays as we do. They are pretty happy, even though they are all crammed into a space that would fit comfortably into the Eastern half of the United States. In other words, our rich have it made. Their citizens, even with bad geography, have it made.
Fleischer, as the current mouthpiece for the Right Wing, shoots his mouth off about the enormous tax burden on the rich…”the share of taxes paid by the top 10% increased to 72.8% in 2005 from 67.8% in 2001…” Well, if that is correct, and we always have to give that caveat when dealing with the Neocons, why would that be? Would it be that they MADE MORE MONEY?
If the average healthcare CEO makes about $12 million a year, which he does, and 50 million people cannot afford healthcare at all, and 500,000 people a year go bankrupt because of it, should that fat cat pay at least his or her share? Is 35% too much to ask? That person, with no deductions at all, would pay about $4,200,000 in taxes. Wow! That’s a lot. It would leave the CEO a mere $7,800,000 to live on for the rest of the year. That is, of course if there were no deductions.
Let’s look at what people in the top tier actually do make and what they do pay. How about, let’s say, George W. Bush? He is reputed to be worth about $20,000,000. So we don’t quite understand how he could only have an income of only $923,807 in 2007. (We don’t know what he earned this last year.) Since he has an income of $400,000 as President, it means that he must only make about 2% on his investments. I suppose that should not surprise anyone, given that it is George W. Bush. Nevertheless, he’s well inside that top tier. He actually paid $221,635 in taxes. That’s a lot, but it is about 22%.
Cheney is a different matter. To Cheney, being Vice President was only a part-time gig. Flying in the face of all tradition, he continued to rake in dough from all kinds of places, and he had momma workin’ too! In 2007, Cheney incorporated took in $3.04 million, while serving as Vice President. He and frau Cheney paid about $603,000 in taxes. That’s about 20%. So you make $44 million while running Halliburton. Then you get yourself appointed Vice President to a stumblebum. Then you see to it that Halliburton gets $12 billion in contracts for a war that you create…most people think…precisely for that reason.
Cheney and Bush quite likely had fewer deductions than those healthcare executives, or any CEO. So it is safe to assume that your Ari Fleischer sufferers are paying about 20% of their millions..not 35%. They’re giving up a million and a half and keeping about ten or eleven million, hoping they’ll do better next year.
Now let us ask ourselves one last thing. If you could pay a little twirp like Ari Fleischer let’s say $200,000 a year–you and a couple of dozen other annual millionaires–to get him to go out on the stump and buy lunches for a lot of journalists and make stupid statements on television to rally the dumb hicks to keep you from paying more taxes…is it worth it? Of course. But do you really care that much about making that extra $500,000? Well, even with the payoff to Fleischer’s people, it is still a net $300,000 in your pocket, more than most people make, before taxes, in four or five years.
Why not? You’ve already seen to it that hundreds of thousands of middle class and poor citizens have no health insurance, some of whom went bankrupt and others who literally died. So that you could make that extra $300,000 on top of the $11 million. There are no ethical issues to these guys.
Let’s not just harangue the health care executives. What about credit card company CEOs? They need their annual millions, don’t they…while getting TARP funds from you and then raising your credit card rates to 29% on money that they get for less than 4%. Sounds like a pretty good spread–even 4% to 29%. How is it possible to go bankrupt or need TARP funds on that kind of spread? Could it be that their executives, making ten, twenty, thirty-million a year, are overpaid? Nah!
There are some people who literally think that people like Cheney and George W. Bush should be publicly tried for crimes against humanity and, if convicted, severely punished, perhaps even hanged. That’s how much anger there is in this country and around the world. Whether that is a good idea or a bad idea, the fact is that Ari Fleischer should probably shut down his propaganda machine for the rich.
It is probably a bad time to tell the poor that millionaires are tired of paying twenty percent of their income and those who are barely making it, if they are making it at all, should pick up a bigger percentage of the tab.