Scamming the Rubes

Let us be clear: No one at the White House is talking about ending Bush’s tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 year. You can scour news stories and White House announcements all you like, and the Obama Administration’s intentions regarding the Bush tax cuts have been completely clear since the 2008 campaign.

For example, on television last week Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner discussed letting tax cuts expire for those making more than $250,000 a year, which would affect 2 to 3 percent of all Americans. At a press briefing yesterday, Robert Gibbs said “The President said that, as he had committed to in the campaign, he would not allow the tax cuts for the middle class to expire.”

However, if you’re getting your news from the Republican Noise Machine, you wouldn’t know that. You’d think everyone’s taxes will be going up.

Today the Usual Tools on the Right Blogosphere are frantically linking to a new “tax calculator” at the Heritage Foundation website. The calculator is supposed to tell how how much YOUR taxes will go up if the Bush tax cuts expire. In their announcement on the calculator, Heritage uses an example of “a married couple with two children under 17 earning $45,000 a year with no other income” who will, Heritage says, owe an additional $3,002 in taxes next year if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire.

Heritage provides absolutely no evidence for its assertion that the Obama Administration plans to allow all the tax cuts to expire. But of course rightie bloggers assume that what Heritage says must be true, so like good little tools they are properly outraged about “the largest tax increase in United States history.”

(Note: in rightiespeak, “the largest tax increase in United States history” refers to any change in tax code whatsoever, when enacted by a Democratic Congress.)

What’s important to remember is that Heritage speaks for its founders and benefactors, who are (according to Sourcewatch)

* Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
* Scaife Foundations: Sarah Mellon Scaife, Scaife Family, Carthage
* John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
* Castle Rock Foundation
* JM Foundation
* Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation
* Philip M. McKenna Foundation, Inc.
* Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation
* Roe Foundation
* Rodney Fund
* Ruth and Lovett Peters Foundation
* Orville D. and Ruth A. Merillat Foundation
* Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation
* Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation
* William H. Donner Foundation
* Walton Family Foundation
* Armstrong Foundation
* John Templeton Foundation
* William E. Simon Foundation

These are foundations set up by families wealthy beyond our imaginations who use rightie think tanks like Heritage to push policies to protect their wealth. The rightie think tank infrastructure exists to push a number of policies that benefit the extremely wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

One of their more successful propaganda strategies is to convince the rubes that tax increases proposed only for the mega-wealthy are really aimed at everyone, including the hypothetical married couple with two children earning $45,000 a year. Thus the rubes can be stirred up into fear and anger about tax increases that will not touch them at all. (See, for example, “GOP Fairy Tales” by Kevin Drum.)

Another organization pushing the propaganda that President Obama intends to raise taxes on lower-income earners is Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist. ATR is an astroturf site established by the following foundations (according to SourceWatch):

* Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
* Carthage Foundation; see Scaife Foundations
* JM Foundation
* John M. Olin Foundation
* Sarah Scaife Foundation; see Scaife Foundations
* R.J. Reynolds
* Philip Morris
* Tobacco Institute

Norquist and his good buddy Jack Abramoff also scammed some Indian tribes into giving money to ATR. Apparently the chiefs were told they had to make the donations in order to have access to President Bush.

BTW, according to Lori Montgomery at WaPo, here’s the reason the Bush tax law was written to expire in ten years:

The cuts were written to expire to allow the bill to pass Congress under fast-track budget rules, known as reconciliation, and avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Just like the final piece of Obama’s health care overhaul, the tax cuts needed only 50 votes to win Senate approval, instead of the 60 required to shut down a filibuster.

Under reconciliation, legislation may not increase the deficit beyond a 10-year “budget window.” Because the tax cuts would have increased the deficit, Republicans had to write them to expire in 2011.

In other words, Congress knew full well that the tax cuts would not magically increase revenue and pay for themselves, although of course no one on the Right was admitting that in public. And never forget that those tax cuts are the single biggest cause of the current federal budget deficit, the same deficit righties shriek about whenever a Democrat proposes any policy whatsoever.

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