The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

"Return the Surplus to Those Who Paid It"—But That’s Not What Bush Is Doing!

Mar 5, 2001

Bush, in presenting a vague outline of the year 2002 budget, proclaimed: "Return the surplus to those who paid it."

There are only two problems: First, there is no surplus. Second, those who pay the most taxes are not getting most of the tax refund.

All this talk of surplus carefully hides one important fact: Bush, just like Clinton before him, can claim there is a big surplus only because Social Security and other such "dedicated" programs are in surplus. A "dedicated" program is one which has its own special tax, which in theory can be spent only on the purposes for which the tax is collected–roads, for example. Social Security itself accounts for almost 70% of the government’s total surplus.

Aside from Social Security and these other "dedicated" programs, there is no surplus. The rest of the government’s budget is in deficit. The income taxes which are collected are not enough to cover the hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars which the government hands over to the big corporations in all sorts of subsidies and to the banks and other financial institutions in interest payments on the existing debt.

The reality is that this tax cut would create a still bigger deficit in the real budget–and Bush acknowledges it when he says that 417 billion MORE dollars will have to be paid out in interest payments on the national debt over the next ten years if his tax cuts are passed.

In fact, the final cost of the tax cuts that Bush is proposing will be paid for by still further cuts in the social programs and in the budgets of agencies which monitor business, like the Environmental Protection Agency or OSHA, for example.

As for Bush’s tax refund itself–who will get it?

Forty-five% of the savings from tax breaks–that is, almost one-half–would go to the richest ONE% of the population. Their average tax cut will amount to almost $55,000–a year!

At the other end of the class spectrum: The bottom 60% of taxpayers will get less than 13% of the tax breaks. Their average annual tax cut will be $256 a year.

At the very bottom are those nine million working families who will get NO tax break at all. Their income is so low that they pay only Social Security tax. It’s bad enough that they must pay this most regressive tax of all, which taxes the poorest people at the highest rate. But isn’t it ironic that Bush’s tax cut–which is being paid for out of Social Security money–is not going to the very people who pay Social Security taxes at the highest rate!

No this tax break is not what Bush called it, "just right." It is plain just wrong. But it certainly is not unusual.

Clinton’s tax cut, passed in 1997, provided a similar result: Those at the top of the income scale got most of the tax breaks.

For years, we have been promised tax breaks by both parties–only to discover that our taxes continue to go up while those of the wealthiest people go down, and while the corporations more and more escape taxes altogether.

We pay the vast majority of all taxes, while the wealthy and the corporations get subsidies of all kinds–that is, hand-outs from the government treasury. The government’s taxing authority has always been one of the bourgeoisie’s most important means of getting money from working people.

The bosses’ slogan has long been: Tax the workers to provide welfare for the corporations and the wealthy.

The workers’ slogan should be: Tax the wealthy, make the corporations pay!