Another Day, Another $350 Billion in Debt

You no doubt saw this -- Mr. Bush signing his tax cut. A big day for the President. But in fact, it's the richest Americans -- the top one percent -- who get the lion's share of the tax cuts -- people like Secretary of the Treasury John Snow, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans, multimillionaires all. Mr. Cheney actually cast the deciding tie-breaker vote in favor of the tax cut in the Senate. As a headline in the Wall Street Journal says, some [wealthy] people could wind up paying virtually no tax at all.

Where's that money coming from to make the rich richer? Some of it's coming from the working poor. Remember that $400 per child tax credit that was in the tax bill? We have now learned that at the very last minute, behind closed doors, the Republican leaders in Congress pulled a bait-and-switch. They eliminated from the bill that $400 child credit for families who make just above the minimum wage. They will use that money to pay for the cut on dividend taxes. Eleven million children in families with incomes roughly between ten thousand and twenty six thousand dollars a year won't be getting the check that was supposed to be in the mail this summer. Eleven million children punished for being poor, even as the rich are rewarded for being rich.

Nothing was said about cutting out the working poor from this tax credit as Mr. Bush signed his tax bill.Nor was anything said when the President closed the door to his office and quietly put his signature on another bill, this one raising the debt ceiling to its highest level in history. No sooner had this happened than it was revealed by the Financial Times -- a British newspaper by the way -- that the White House withheld a Treasury department study showing that the country faces chronic deficits totaling over $44 trillion dollars. They kept it secret lest it throw the fear of God into Congress and the financial markets and cost them the tax cut for the rich.

This was enough to send us over to the debt clock just a few blocks from our offices in mid-town New York. Standing there you can watch the country's future slip deeper and deeper into a black hole of red ink. At mid-day today the national debt was over 6 trillion dollars and climbing. It makes you wonder . . . exactly why are these rich guys smiling?

Bill Moyers is host of the weekly newsmagazine program "Now with Bill Moyers" on PBS.

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