THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2003
THE EMPERORS NEW TAX CUT: In Campaign 2000, Candidate Bush swore that $1.3 trillion (over ten years) was all the tax cut we could afford. More than that, the deeply religious man said, and wed be spending Social Security moneysomething he swore he wouldnt do. But that was then, and this is empire. Bush pushed through a $1.3 trillion tax cut, then sought $726 billion more. Meanwhile, Christ-like majority leader Bill Frist explains that more tax cuts will roll down the pipeline.
What ever happened to Candidate Bushs solemn pledge? Mainstream scribes are too frightened to ask. Weird, aint it? Your Washington press corps has pretended for years that it simply hates all politico flip-flops. Not only thatduring Campaign 2000, they pretended to hate lying so much that they simply made up a bunch of lies and pretended that Al Gore had said them! But now, a Culture of Lying surrounds George Bush, and a cowardly press corps is paid not to notice. And, in the midst of Bushs fakery, the Washington Post editorial board finally says the AMT must be fixed! Heres the start of yesterdays lead editorial, headlined Fix a Real Tax Problem:
WASHINGTON POST: As the president holds a signing ceremony today for a tax cut that favors the wealthy, a real middle-class tax problem has been put off for another dayeven though everyone agrees that it needs to be fixed. The problem is the alternative minimum taxand before your eyes glaze over, consider this: Pretty soon, its apt to cost you money.Of course, it will also cost the treasury lots of money when Bush gets around to fixing it. According to the Post editorial, it will cost at least $435 billion over ten yearsperhaps as much as $1 trillionto fix the AMT. Guess what? As the Post editorial makes abundantly clear, the AMT will surely be one of the emperors new tax cuts.
The facts about the AMT are fairly well explained in the editorial. But one thing isnt made fully clear: Everyone has always known that this problem with the AMT was coming. During Campaign 2000, the Gore campaign sent press releases noting an important fact. The size of Bushs proposed tax cut was fake, Gore and his campaign correctly noted; the AMT would have to be fixed for citizens to get the cuts which were being described, and that would add a great deal more to the price tag of the Bush cuts. Within the establishment, everyone has always known that this problem was built into Bushs tax cuts. Everyone has known that Bushs original price tag was a miragethat passage of his original tax cut would lead to another large adjustment.
But you know the way your press corps works. The Washington press corps is paid not to notice the Culture of Lying surrounding George Bush. And Bush knows he can count on their somnolence. Indeed, heres all the fervor the Post could muster as it called for this expensive new tax cut:
WASHINGTON POST: [T]he administration and lawmakers have opted for the easy way out in the bill Mr. Bush will sign today: a temporary and inadequate fix that simply gets taxpayers through this year and next without subjecting even more taxpayers to the AMT than would have been affected without the tax cuts .The Bush administration says its working on a solution. Too bad it didnt tackle the real problems firstbefore piling on new tax cuts that only make it harder to do so.Too bad it didnt tackle the real problems first, the Post says, pretending that this was some sort of mistake. Too bad it didnt tackle the real problems first, the Post says, failing to note the obvious factthe Bush Admin didnt tackle the real problem first as part of its overall plan! By going about its business this way, the Admin will now get another large tax cutand cowering slaves at the Washington Post wont dare to discuss the real problem. The real problem, of course, is the Culture of Lying that was tied up in Bushs tax cuts from the start. As a candidate, Bush pretended he wouldnt touch SSbut now we see his real program quite clearly. At the Post, cowering pundits hide behind desks, too frightened to notice the obvious.
The Post board is strangely unable to see the real shape of their emperors new tax cut. The board is strangely unable to see that Culture of Lying around Bush.
TOMORROW: The Blumenthal Wars just rumble on. Beyond that, lets bend it like Sullivan.
A PAIR OF MEEK LITTLE VOICES: In Tuesdays New York Times, Paul Krugman stated the obvious about the unfolding Bush tax cut proposals. But he had to go across the pond, to the Financial Times, to find a paper willing to follow (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/28/03). At the Washington Post, meanwhile, meek little voices pretend not to see the Culture of Lying around George Bush. In yesterdays Post, David Broder could only notein a quiet little voicethat voters dont seem to want all these cuts. Robert Samuelson, meanwhile, played moral equivalence; he pretended that Reps and Dems are equally bad in this mess. But what ever happened to Candidate Bush, and his solemn pledge about Social Security? Broder isnt going to askand his board pretends that it doesnt know how we got stuck with the AMT problem. Can we finally state the obvious? It was Bush who was lying in Campaign 2000, not the well-flogged Candidate Gore! But your fake, phony press corps pretended not to knowand theres no chance on earth that theyll tell you now. Result? Your emperor will soon parade about town, and youll gaze on his brilliant new tax cuts.
First, you had to miss Jeff Gerths reporting as he gimmicked up the Whitewater hoax. Fools for Scandal explained itin 1996! So you had to miss FFS too.
Howell Raines bad judgment have you down? Then you had to miss the endless, foolish, pro-Starr editorials with which he littered the Times ed page. Tomasky laid it out in The Nation. You had to miss Tomasky too.
You had to miss that same Jeff Gerth when he bungled the papers Wen Ho Lee reporting. In September 2000, the paper finally admitted their work had been bollixed. The Times [e]ssentially acknowledg[ed] that they were swept away by the hype about Lee, Howard Kurtz wrote. To be surprised by the current mess, you had to miss that big mess too. (Of course, Raines wrote wild-eyed, Clinton-trashing editorials about that bungled tale also.)
Finally, you had to miss the way the Times made a joke out of Campaign 2000. You had to miss Frank Brunis clowning, as he loved, briefly hated, then loved his man Dub. And you had to miss the clown Kit Seelye. In August 2000, the Financial Timeswho else would dare?finally stated the obvious:
FINANCIAL TIMES: At the heart of the [Gore] press corps are three reporters perhaps the most influential reporters on the Gore campaign, having covered the vice-president almost without break this year: Ceci Connolly of The Washington Post, Katharine Seelye of The New York Times and Sandra Sobieraj of the Associated Press. They can also be the most hostile to the campaign, doing little to hide their contempt for the candidate.Seelye did little to hide her contempt for Gore. To be shockedjust shockedby the Jayson Blair mess, you had to miss that news flash too.
In fact, youd have to live in a caveor be a press stoogeto be surprised by the mess at the Times. The Times has been a car wreck for years, but as long as the paper slimed Clinton and Gore, well-bred journalists knew not to notice. Now Kaus hangs on every word, pretending hes shocked by the unfolding story. Are you starting to spy a small secret here? Any chance that he bends it like Jayson?