Please don’t feed the corporate talking points on the bonus tax

22 Mar 2009 10:29 am
Posted by: Donna

Good grief, people, it’s bad enough that the conservatives are caterwauling but Democrats like Rep. Harry Mitchell and even some liberal bloggers (who should know better) are succumbing to the corporatist-enabling frame that a 90% on bonuses paid out of tax money is not only unconstitutional, but unfairly singles out a specific group of people (AIG execs).

Okay, let’s first dispatch with the fallacy that this is an AIG bonus tax.  It is not.  It is a tax on bonuses paid to people at companies that received TARP funds.  

The supposed constitutional issues with the tax are non-existent.  Legal scholar and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe explained why to the Wall Street Journal the other day.  It’s not a Bill of Attainder, doesn’t violate ex post facto law, and isn’t a taking. Seriously, don’t take my word for it, read the link.

Legalities aside, there been a lot of bi-partisan fretting over the “singling out” of a group of people for taxation. Even VP Biden’s adviser joined in the fray, sniffling about “using the tax code to surgically punish a small group” on Stephanopoulous this morning. Oh the humanity!

Excuse me, but can anyone name a tax that doesn’t “single out” a specific group? Why, there isn’t one! And believe me, I ought to know since I’m a smoker. Every pack of smokes I buy is about 80% tax on the price because the federal and state governments have determined that my group makes a nice juicy target to “punish” with taxes. Same goes for alcohol. Smokers just got dinged with a hefty increase to pay for SCHIP. I understand the rationale behind it, and I wasn’t going to complain until all these people started bleeding their hearts over the poor dears at AIG having to pay a special tax because they, you know, destroyed the freaking world economy. Which, last time I checked, I hadn’t done by smoking.

Sin taxes are an obvious example of picking certain groups but like I said, what tax doesn’t? If you drive you pay vehicle registration fees and gas taxes. So drivers, as a group, are singled out for taxation. If you own property, you pay special taxes on it. Looks like the tax code has been used to “surgically punish” you for owning property. Hell, if you earn income, you are in a group known as income earners, and you pay taxes as a result. Non-income earners don’t pay taxes, do they? OMG that’s sooooo unfair!

Folks, the plutocrats are continuing, unabated, in their quest to enrich themselves at your expense. Unfortunately, some of the worst enablers are Democrats. This bonus tax thing tapped into a volcano of populist anger and it scares the bejeezus out of the ownership class and the politicians they own. That’s a good thing. So the next time something like this comes up, I must ask that people use a little perspective and judgment and do some research so that you’re not unwittingly catapaulting the plutocratic propaganda. Thanks.


  1. Comment by Steve Calabrese on March 24, 2009 2:03 am

    I hate to say it, but you’re missing the point. It seems that the whole AIG mess has been brought on by the stupidity of bailing out giant corporations in the first place.

    Quite frankly, unusual situations make bad law. And the whole successions of bailouts is going to result in some staggeringly bad legislation.

    Harry Mitchell can at least see this coming – I’ll give him credit for that. My problem with Mitchell is that he utterly refuses to admit that his rash support for the AIG bailout in the first place is what caused this problem.

    As a Republican, I have been ashamed at how blatantly my party has given big business anything it wanted over the past eight years. And yet, I am more disappointed in the Democratic party. I am the first to admit that without strong, intelligent Democratic party, we Republicans can sometimes go overboard. We need you to be our check against going too far.

    We Republicans have always been focused on creating a business-friendly environment. It’s understandable that we can sometimes go a bit far and cross the line from being business-friendly to giving business what it wants on a silver platter.

    But, when Democrats like Harry Mitchell vote to support giant corporations with tax dollars, it demeans the whole Democratic party. It reaffirms that business has infiltrated and subverted both parties; that both parties are too blame for this mess. I would love to see Harry Mitchell admit that his vote to bail out AIG was the original mistake. Somehow, though, I doubt I’ll see that admission.

  2. Comment by Donna on March 25, 2009 12:27 am

    I’m not missing any point, Steve. My post was about the bonus tax. Which is not what you think I should be writing about but I guess I can’t win them all.

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