Just a week after bragging in his State of the Union speech that the economy is on the mend, George W. Bush faced angry charges that his policies have pushed working people deeper in debt to enrich the wealthy elite.
The Fair Taxes for All Coalition (FTFA) released a scathing statement Jan. 26 citing a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that the federal deficit will reach an all-time record $477 billion this year. Over the coming decade, the CBO projected the deficit mushrooming to $2.4 trillion, a trillion dollars higher than the nonpartisan agency projected last August.
The new deficit projections “show that President Bush’s tax cuts are harming American families now and into the future,” the FTFA charged. Bush’s $2 trillion in tax cuts, approved by the Republican-majority Congress, “has not improved the standard of living of average Americans or created new good jobs,” it continued.
Referring to Bush’s call in the State of the Union to make those tax cuts permanent, the FTFA added, “The administration continues to push reckless proposals that divert even more money from health care, education, and Social Security to give more tax breaks to millionaires. … As today’s CBO numbers confirm, the Bush administration is imposing trillions of dollars in debt on current and future taxpayers.”
The FTFA unites 325 organizations, such as People for the American Way, National Women’s Law Center, AFSCME, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, USAction, and the Campaign for America’s Future. It said “millions of Americans (have) pledged to defeat Bush administration tax proposals. … The time has come to reform the tax system to insure that everyone pays their fair share and to provide adequate revenue to assure a world class education for our children, quality health care, retirement security, and economic opportunity.”
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney also denounced Bush’s claims of an economic recovery in the State of the Union address. “Mr. Bush’s tax and trade policies have been tried and they have failed,” Sweeney said. “When it comes to jobs, all we have to show for three years of multi-trillion-dollar tax cuts for the rich, free-wheeling trade policy and race-to-the-bottom corporate globetrotting is the loss of 2.9 million private-sector jobs, including a staggering 2.6 million manufacturing jobs.”
The AFL-CIO also denounced Bush’s attempt to peddle a recycled scheme to privatize Social Security. “Privatizing Social Security would be a windfall to Wall Street, an investment industry still mired in corruption scandal,” it said in a related statement.
Three days later, the Senate voted to approve an $832 billion omnibus-spending bill. Senators bowed to Bush’s veto threat and removed from the bill an amendment that would have nullified the administration’s new labor rules stripping 8 million workers of overtime protection. Democratic senators had waged a filibuster to block the measure, but the Republicans succeeded in mustering a 61-32 vote to cut off the debate.
“The Senate prematurely ended debate on a critical issue that could impact the financial security of working families across the country,” Sweeney said. He predicted that this frontal assault “will galvanize workers who are appalled by the administration’s attempt to deprive them of fair compensation for extra hours on the job.”
Sweeney said the White House and congressional offices have been bombarded with 1.5 million e-mails, letters, faxes, and phone calls over the past year protesting Bush’s attack on the 40-hour workweek, a right won and defended over a century of struggle reaching back to the Haymarket Massacre.
The White House set up a blocking system to prevent e-mails from unions and other advocacy groups from being delivered.
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka told Sen. Arlen Specter’s Senate Appropriations Labor Subcommittee that war veterans would be especially hard hit by Bush’s new rules.
“Under the Bush proposal, if an employer determines that the training veterans have received in the military is equivalent to a four-year professional degree, that employer will now be allowed to deny those veterans overtime eligibility and refuse to pay them anything for overtime work,” Trumka testified. “This proposal is offensive.”
Air Force veteran Randy Fleming, a technician at the Boeing plant near Wichita, Kan., told the hearing, “If you think it’s okay for the government to renege on deals, I think it should be your job to tell our military men and women in Iraq that when they come home, their service to their country will be used as a way to cut their overtime pay.”
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