COLUMN: Bush’s real one percent doctrine

By Eric Naing

Paris Hilton can sleep easier knowing that President Bush’s tax policies will forever keep her rolling in designer shoes and exotic pet monkeys. It’s no secret that Republican fiscal policy tends to benefit the Scrooge McDucks of the nation over the working class. But nowhere has this Republican allegiance to the super rich been as obvious as their recent attempt to tie a minimum wage increase to a repeal of The Estate Tax.

It is a fact that the Bush tax cuts have helped the economy grow. Unfortunately, the vast majority of that growth is at the very top of the economic ladder. According to the New York Times, the top 1 percent of American households received 36 percent of all increases in real average income in 2004. Because of Republican tax policies the absolute richest of all Americans continue to get richer at a record pace while wages for working class Americans stagnate, partially because the minimum wage has been stuck at $5.15 an hour for nearly 10 years.

In an election year, raising the minimum wage is a winning issue and the Republicans know it. Recently, they allowed the national minimum wage to be raised to $7.25 an hour. Regrettably, it seems that the GOP’s benevolence is limited as they have tied this minimum wage increase to a repeal of an inheritance tax for multimillionaires.

The Estate Tax, referred to by its opponents as the death tax, is a tax “on the transfer of the taxable estate of every descendent who is a citizen or resident of the United States.” So who are the people that actually pay this “death tax”? Not surprisingly, that same, top 1 percent are the only ones affected. Essentially, The Estate Tax, a tax on millionaire heirs, should more accurately be called the New Shoes for Paris Hilton Tax.

Working class Americans are struggling to provide food for their families and pay for things like health insurance while the richest of the rich get billions of dollars in handouts from the government. Fortunately, some local governments are tackling this problem on their own.

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    According to the Associated Press, a recent ordinance passed by the Chicago City Council “requires retailers with more than $1 billion in annual sales and stores of at least 90,000 square feet to pay workers at least $10 an hour in wages plus $3 an hour in fringe benefits by mid-2010.” Basically, the ordinance forces the Wal-Marts and Targets of the world to pay their employees a living wage. Perhaps the Urbana and Champaign city councils should do the same.

    According to United For a Fair Economy, the top 1 percent own 33 percent of all wealth in the United States. This nation is now the most unequal society in the industrialized world. At this rate, it seems like the only way we’ll get universal health care is if the Republicans get to pass a bill allowing anyone with a net worth of $1 million and over to kick poor people in the crotch.