We were going to continue with our Populist view of what’s wrong with America in Part II, discussing the shift in American Values. But first, this on Neocon Greed.
We have to tell you the 2010 version of Dickens’ A Christmas Story. In this story, Scrooge is the Neocon Republican Senate. Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim are the great number of first responders to 9/11.
For some time Congress has known that people who had been responders at the 9/11 Twin Towers collapse had been encountering serious health problems. The Democratic House passed a bill to fund research and health care for many of those who simply could not afford their treatment.
The bill passed and went to the Senate. Forty Republican Senators, every single one, blocked health care for the very people who were the greatest heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Thousands of New York City police and firemen had rushed to the site of the terrorist attack, in the midst of air so heavy with toxic particles that it looked like a snow storm. The collapse itself, you may recall, produced a cloud that looked like a dust storm on the Sahara. Many of these responders had rushed into the buildings as others were fleeing, and were crushed under the weight of the buildings as they collapsed.
But others, not yet in the buildings went into the rubble in the midst of the gas-like atmosphere, and searched relentlessly and urgently for their fellow workers and for any building occupants who might have survived. Days continued into weeks, weeks into months while they dug through the enormous pile of rubble for the bodies of disaster victims. They continued to search the site month after month until it was cleared.
Despite repeated warnings to the Bush Administration by New York and national health department officials that more caution should be taken or serious health problems could result, very little precaution was taken compared with the risk. Eventually, many of these brave men and women began to notice serious problems with their health.
They began to experience similar kinds of health failures…cancer and respiratory problems especially. Many strong, strapping, healthy police and firemen, who had annual physicals and who were never sick a day in their lives were suddenly struck down. And now it was the country’s turn to repay them.
The bill quickly passed through the Democratic House of Representatives. It was voted on and passed, incidentally, by some of the same House members who have recently been voted out of office largely because of the Republican “tea party” campaigns. Naturally, as one would expect, the “tea party” people praise the responders but are against the bill to actually do something to help them.
Then the bill went to the Senate, where it was attacked by Republicans. It was attacked for costing too much money. It did have a potential price tag of $9 billion, less than American companies spend advertising dog food. But it was paid for by closing the tax loophole on American corporations who pay no taxes at all by locating their headquarters outside the U.S. in places like Bimini and the Cayman Islands.
The Republicans said, oh no, no closing loopholes on multi-billion dollar corporations who now pay no taxes in this country, despite the fact that their owners, their major stockholders get to earn the money from those corporations, at a capital gains tax rate of just 15%.
So understand what happens: say a corporation makes 100 million dollars profit. The owners, very rich men already, have stock that pays them something like 5% or 10% of that. So one gets $5 million and the other gets $10 million. The one who gets $5 million, keeps at least $4,250,000 and the one who made $10 million keeps at least $8,500,000.
Corporations would pay more taxes, yes. And that would reduce a portion of the incomes of those rich investors. But their better tax advantages would make up for that. Corporations that are supposed to be U.S. corporations would be made to feel some obligation to this country, which is by far the largest market and most lucrative market for consumer products in the world.
But that wasn’t the only way it could have been paid for. Astonishingly, those same Neocon Republican Senators wanted a tax cut for the richest Americans, the top 1% of Americans, worth $700 billion dollars. Versus…$9 billion…couldn’t even reduce their greedy, odious tax breaks for billionaires by 9 billion dollars to help heroic, in some cases dying American heroes….truly heroic Americans.
Every single Republican Senator voted No. Finally, after Keith Olberman, Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart…a comedian, not a legislator or even a newsman…spoke out against this injustice to several million people on television, and Ed Schultz, on television and on radio, kept holding onto the issue like a bulldog, the Republican relented and grudgingly voted for the health care for the 9/11 First Responders.
But they kept their other bill, the $700 billion tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires. And they also reduced the amount to $5 billion from $9 billion to help these desperately ill people. Furthermore, they did nothing to interfere with their friends and patrons, the big corporations.
The CEOs of these big corporations make 400 times what an average American makes, live here, educate their children here in the best schools, and profit from our society while paying no taxes at all. And while their corporations pollute our cities and villages, they would let our best and most courageous die rather than sacrifice one penny in taxes to help them. What has happened to America?