Hello,
 
Another ZNet Update for you -- and we are still having problems with
Sustainer mailings, so this mailing is another of the nightly Sustainer
Commentaries.
 
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Wealthy taxpayers bank on Bush
Holly Sklar

It would take 17 Donald Trumps to match the $43 billion net worth of
investor guru Warren Buffett, the world's second richest man. When it
comes to federal taxes, though, Buffett pays about the same rate as his
office receptionist.

"I pay a somewhat higher [federal tax] rate for my combination of
salary, investment and capital gain income than our receptionist does,"
Buffett wrote last year, "But she pays a far higher portion of her
income in payroll taxes than I do."

If President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy keep moving forward, the
receptionist will pay a higher overall tax rate than her boss. She
already pays a higher rate in state and local taxes. In Nebraska, home
of Buffett's firm, Berkshire Hathaway, the richest 1 percent of families
effectively paid 6.4 percent of their income in state and local taxes in
2002, the middle 20 percent of families paid 9.8 percent and the bottom
20 percent paid 10.2 percent, reports the Institute on Taxation and
Economic Policy.

In Bush's home state Texas, taxes are even more regressive: the richest
1 percent paid just 3.2 percent of their income in state and local
taxes, the middle fifth paid 8.2 percent and the poorest fifth paid 11.4
percent--more than three times the rate of the rich.

Criticizing tax breaks for large investors and corporations, Buffett
recently told Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, "If class warfare is
being waged in America, my class is clearly winning."

Bush's tax policies are slashing taxes on dividends, capital gains and
estates, with most of the benefits going to the richest 1 percent.

Do you want an America where soldiers and teachers pay a larger share of
their incomes in taxes than the laziest heirs of the wealthy living off
inherited investments?

Bush surrounded himself with middle-class families to launch his tax cut
campaign in 2001. When a reporter asked why no one was representing the
top bracket, Bush laughingly replied, "I beg your pardon. I'm
representing...the top tax bracket."

George and Laura Bush reported income of $822,126 on their 2003 tax
return, putting them in the top 1 percent. Dick and Lynne Cheney topped
the Bushes with $1,900,339, including $627,005 in tax-exempt interest on
municipal bonds and $178,437 in deferred compensation from Halliburton.

Administration tax policies have been good for them, but not for the
country.

While Warren Buffett has a golden track record, Bush has a reverse Midas
touch, transforming surplus into debt. Under Buffett, Berkshire
Hathaway's per-share book value grew from $19 in 1965 to $50,498 in
2003, a rate of over 22% compounded annually--about twice the rate of
the S&P 500 stock index. Under Bush, the federal budget reversed course
from a projected 2002-2011 surplus of $5 trillion to a projected deficit
of more than $4 trillion, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
reports.

Federal tax revenues have fallen to their lowest level as a share of the
economy since 1950. We can't have a 21st century country with 1950 tax
revenues.

The average 2004 tax cut for the richest 1 percent--$59,292--is more
than the typical firefighter, registered nurse, environmental scientist,
social worker or police officer makes in a year.

The average top 1 percent tax cut can pay for a gold watch and a Hummer
H2, at a time U.S. soldiers are dying in Humvees in Iraq.

If extended, already enacted tax cuts for the richest 1 percent will
cost the treasury more than $1 trillion between 2001 and 2010. Those
lost revenues won't go to schools, homeland security, health care,
research, small business development or renovating the aging
infrastructure built with the tax dollars of prior generations. Bush
wants even more tax cuts.

Next time you drink safe water from your faucet, send your kids to
school, cross a bridge, use a park or library, or call 911, remember
this--if we want public services and infrastructure, we have to pay for
them. The rich already pay a smaller share of income than everyone else
in state and local taxes. Do you want that at the federal level?

If you want taxation with representation, now's the time to make
yourself heard.

Holly Sklar is coauthor of "Raise the Floor: Wages and Policies That
Work for All Of Us" (www.raisethefloor.org). She can be reached at
[EMAIL PROTECTED]

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