Most of you know that the Republicans are about to pass a bankruptcy "reform" bill that will protect credit card companies and health insurance companies and international banking conglomerates from you. Yes, that's right: You are the biggest problem for Fortune500 companies. How nice that the Republicans are stepping in to protect them.
And here you thought the Republicans were for the common citizen?
For the past few years, conservatives have been crying "class warfare" whenever someone tried to point out what they were up to. It was an ingenious move, because, as it turns out, they are the ones who've been waging class warfare.
Being short on time, I thought I'd offer up some recommended reading I've come across over the past couple of days.
IETP Policy Briefs offers a series of articles that provide a quick introduction to basic tax policy ideas that are important to understanding current debates at the state and federal level.
Peter G. Gosselin's investigative LA Times series of reports, "If America Is Richer, Why Are Its Families So Much Less Secure?. This is the kind of news that the television networks don't like to tell.
Citizens for Tax Justice is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research and advocacy organization. They have several interesting articles analyzing tax policies. Of particular note (all in pdf format): Bush's Double-Barrelled Attack on Social Security, Bush Budget Calls for Giant New Tax Cuts, Huge Reductions in Most Federal Programs, Bush's $10 Trillion Borrowing Binge: An Update and Do Fat Cats Pay Lower Tax Rates than Workers?.
Molly Ivins' "Now That's Class Warfare" is a Texan's point of view on the tax policies of conservatives.
Bush Erasing FDR's Legacy While Waging Class Warfare is Floyd J. McKay's Seattle Times piece on how a wide variety of Bush's domestic policies put the burden on the poor.
David Bacon's end-of-2003 article about Arnold Schwarzenegger's efforts to wipe out the University of California's Institute for Labor and Employment.
Spinsanity's rhetorical analysis of Republicans' crying "class warfare" to deflect reasoned analysis of their policies.
And from Daily Kos:
- ddonnelly: Gaping loophole for wealthy in bankruptcy bill; DeLay poised to fast-track it.
- LeftofArizona: How Bankruptcy Saved My Life.
- rspear: Robbing Peter to Pay Enron?.
- ram8647: Outrageous! Don't shop at Wal-Mart or eat at McDonalds or ....
- Mike Stark: Man, I just don't understand.
- Maryscott O'Connor: Maryscott's Outrage du Jour [Warning: LONG Profanity-Strewn Rant].
Turning back to Molly on current events....
In a classic example of moral accounting, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the bill's chief sponsor, said, "People who have the ability to repay some or all of their debt should not be able to use bankruptcy as a financial planning tool so they get out of paying their debt scot-free, while honest Americans who play by the rules have to foot the bill."
That's a startling example of the "straw-man" school of argument. The study by the Harvard profs shows that in the two years before filing for bankruptcy, 19 percent of families went without food, 40 percent had their phone service shut off, 43 percent could not fill a doctor's prescription and 53 percent went without important medical care.
So, who are these feckless, irresponsible moochers using bankruptcy to avoid paying legitimate debts? Why, look at this: The New York Times reports "legal specialists say the proposed law leaves open an increasingly popular loophole that lets wealthy people protect substantial assets from creditors even after filing for bankruptcy."
What, our Republican Congress passing a bill that favors rich people at the expense of "honest Americans who play by the rules and have to foot the bill"? If you have a lot of money (most people filing for bankruptcy don't have this problem), you just put it in an asset protection trust and walk away. You don't even have to set up the trust offshore anymore -- five states have made it legal to set them up in their borders, and you don't even have to live in any of the five to do it.
If you don't like that feature of the bankruptcy bill, try this one: You may have read of the hardship on the families of those who have been called to fight in Iraq, including, of course, severe financial stress leading to many bankruptcies. Democrats in the Senate tried to put an amendment on this bill exempting military personnel, and the Republicans voted it down.
...and that leads us to:
This AP report on the 500,000 veterans who will become homeless this year. Yes, that's right. That is not a typo. A half a million of our bravest will end up homeless. How's that for supporting our troops?
And just to get your ire up (or get a good chuckle), conservative Larry Kudlow tries to argue that it's the Democrats who are waging class warfare, and that it's a losing strategy. His evidence? Middle-class voters didn't vote for John Kerry. And he calls himself an expert. Tsk tsk.
Public Campaign Action Fund asks "Is your Senator in debt to big banks and credit card companies?" -- a very pertinent question given the corporate welfare being given to the Fortune500 credit card companies by Republicans in Congress at this very moment. On this page is a form to contact your Senators.
If you're not angry, you're not paying attention.