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As a soon to be minted threehundreddollar-inaire,
July 22, 2001 12:43 PM   Subscribe

As a soon to be minted threehundreddollar-inaire, I'm one of more than 90 million Americans who has received notice of my tax rebate on the way. But some 32 million Americans are due no tax rebate, and are now receiving notices in the mail to this effect- a letdown that Democrats are trying to capitalize on. Is the tax break going to backfire on Bush and the Republicans... ? << more inside >>
posted by hincandenza (79 comments total)

 
32 million americans will receive no rebate, and many more (the figure I've heard is about 17 million) of that 90 million won't receive the full rebate they've been hearing about. While it may be said that they don't deserve it because they didn't make that much money to begin with, these people are watching Paul O'Neill on Good Morning America, or seeing Pizza Hut ads, or hearing pundits constantly reference the tax break, only to find out now that they aren't getting squat, won't they feel a little cheated (see the quote at the end of the article)?

And with news that the surplus may become non-existent even before the tax break is fully in effect, along with the reality that a lot of people aren't going to be much helped by the tax break, will Democrats be able to turn this centerpiece of the Bush agenda into a dead weight on Republican necks in 2002 and 2004?
posted by hincandenza at 12:46 PM on July 22, 2001



as someone who is about to recieve $300, I would gladly give it back for a government that works.

instead, i'm going to buy a tivo.
posted by o2b at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2001


Wasn't the rebate an idea sponsored by Democrats concerned that the tax relief didn't initiate soon enough?
posted by machaus at 12:59 PM on July 22, 2001


machaus: I believe you are correct.

Correct me if I'm wrong...but doesn't the Earned Income Tax Credit essentially give people who DON'T make enough money to pay federal income taxes a "bonus" every year?
posted by davidmsc at 1:01 PM on July 22, 2001


I got a notice stating that I will not get a refund. It really doesn't matter that much to me. As a college student with and income of about $10,000 a year aside from financial aid and government benefits, I get at least a $600 refund every year between federal and state taxes. That's good enough for me.
posted by ttrendel at 1:10 PM on July 22, 2001


I'm sorry, I'm confused. How can you get a rebate of monies you didn't pay? According to the article, these 32 million won't be getting an income tax rebate check because they, um, didn't pay any income tax. I hope that the Democrats don't try to turn this into a centerpiece in the next election - they'll look like bigger fools than the people who thought George Bush was going to issue checks to low income families that don't pay income taxes.
posted by dchase at 1:18 PM on July 22, 2001


Part of my $300 is going to the DNC. They'll at least try not to bankrupt social security. Fiscally prudent Democrats - wowzers! :)
posted by owillis at 1:21 PM on July 22, 2001


davidmsc: Like I said, while we could debate the merits of the rebate and who deserves it, I'm more interested in the perception of those who won't get it- and how, if at all, it will tilt their political leanings. Will they also say "Ah, well I didn't expect the money anyway..." or will they think "Hey, what the fawk, I thought I was getting $300!".

I know it was mentioned a couple of months ago that there are even these bastard check cashing places that were offering "advances" on the tax rebate, likely used most by those people who are least likely to be getting a rebate. I guess my feeling is (much like the stock market boom was reported as if everyone was a dot-com millionaire), the media has reported this tax rebate as if everyone is getting it- certainly most members of the media are- which could create a letdown among the 32 million who aren't...
posted by hincandenza at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2001



dchase: do not confuse Not filing an income tax and thus not being entitled to recieve money with the fact that on many purchases one makes a tax is placed which goes to the governbment...no matter how little one makes. You may not make enough to have to file or not enough to get back money but nonetheless you are still giving money to the government. and in this instance none is coming back. As my CPA tells me in technical language: the poor fucks always get fucked andtyhat is what helps make them kept as poor fucks.
posted by Postroad at 1:22 PM on July 22, 2001


I got the 'no check for you' letter myself. It spells things out pretty clearly:
"According to the information on your 2000 federal tax return, you either did not pay any federal income taxes in 2000, did not have taxable income, or were claimed as a dependent on someone else's return. (The law also provides that individuals filing as nonresident aliens are not eligible to receive a check.) However, if you pay income taxes in 2001, and are otherwise eligible, you will be able to claim a credit on your 2001 tax return.... In addition, you may be eligible for further tax relief in future years as federal taxes are scheduled to be reduced further."

If anyone reads that, and still thinks "what the fawk, I was supposed to be getting $300!", then they have absolutely no functioning brain cells. And if they were already making plans based on money they weren't certain of getting, then it's no wonder they're not in a position to get the refund.

Postroad: Federal income tax reform has nothing to do with sales tax. One might argue that sales tax is, in fact, the most fair form of taxation, because everyone pays it equally, and you can't bring a lawyer around to argue loopholes at the cash register.
posted by darukaru at 1:45 PM on July 22, 2001


o2b, here here.

Should we start listing things the money would be better spent on? I'll start:

-Improving the national road, rail and air infrastructure
-Securing social security
-Stabilizing our national parks

Who wants to continue?
posted by mrbula at 1:49 PM on July 22, 2001


By the way, before anyone jumps on me and calls me a fascist pig, I'm not saying that poverty is solely the fault of the poor. But if you spend money that you don't have, chances are good that you're not going to get rich.

Amen to mrbula, btw. I'd rather see the money turn into high-speed clean rail than Tivos, cool as they are.
posted by darukaru at 1:53 PM on July 22, 2001


darukaru: Despite what you said, I believe that some people may well think "what the fawk, I was supposed to be getting $300!". But then where did you think the Democrats get most of their voting base, anyway?
posted by gd779 at 1:55 PM on July 22, 2001


mrbula: I'll take your cue.

- Setting up a plan to return _all_ my tax money to me.
posted by dagny at 1:59 PM on July 22, 2001


I got my letter in the mail yesterday... it said something to the effect of "NO TAX BREAK FOR YOU!!!" Needless to say, I'm a bit peeved...
posted by fusinski at 2:02 PM on July 22, 2001


"We adjusted your taxes and now you owe us $143.00."

That's what I got in the fucking mail. Coincidence? I'll find out this week when I bring this letter over to my lawyer.
posted by skallas at 2:06 PM on July 22, 2001


Should we start listing things the money would be better spent on?

Okay, seriously now (my above post WAS a joke), I think it's pretty clear that this won't backfire on the Republican's too badly. Why? Because the majority of their voting base votes for them for "moral" reasons (ie, the Religious Right) or for economic reasons. The moral vote is uneffected by this. And the majority of people who understand economics reasons well enough to endorse Republican economic policies are also quite likely to have paid income tax last year. Therefore, the Republican's lose no ground in their voting base that I can see.

And before people start using my above post to equate "Republican" with "rich", know that I was very involved with the Republican party in Missouri a couple of years ago. The vast, vast majority of politically active Republican's that I saw were by no means rich... in fact, most of them were working class families that struggled every month to keep food on the table.
posted by gd779 at 2:12 PM on July 22, 2001


But if you spend money that you don't have, chances are good that you're not going to get rich

Nonsense. How do you think homes are purchased and businesses started?
posted by sudama at 2:13 PM on July 22, 2001


Also, I should point out that I'm not a Republican. I was involved with them via a third party.
posted by gd779 at 2:14 PM on July 22, 2001


Remember taxclarity.com? I was supposed to save thousands under Bush, but instead I get $300? That's kind of weird.
posted by mathowie at 2:17 PM on July 22, 2001


or were claimed as a dependent on someone else's return, i.e. most college, or recently graduated students.

I got the letter and was pissed off. You get out of school with debt to the eyeballs, you haven't spent money on yourself all summer trying to down the late payments on the VISA cards they practically begged you to have, then you move out on your own, the job market goes to shit and then this. I was expecting to buy something for myself, but instead I got stuck just ranting about it
posted by Zebulun at 2:33 PM on July 22, 2001


But if you spend money that you don't have, chances are good that you're not going to get rich.

Nonsense. How do you think homes are purchased and businesses started?

There are a lot of people out there who don't understand the concepts of debt and interest, and think credit cards are magical money. These are the people who are most likely to have heard 'cool, free money!' on the news and got an advance from the local usurer, without listening to see if they actually qualified for the rebate.
Joe Small-Businessman does understand these concepts, knows what he's getting into, and has a plan to pay it all back eventually, with profit to himself. That's the difference.
posted by darukaru at 2:40 PM on July 22, 2001


Zebulun: if you got, at any time during college, a subsidized loan (where the government pays the interest for you), or a grant (totally free money), then you have absolutely no place to complain. Or perhaps you'd rather have gone through college without the help of federally-sponsored loans. Uncle Sam is already bending over backwards to help students, and now you're demanding candy from him?
posted by darukaru at 2:47 PM on July 22, 2001


Like Zebulun, I got zero because I was a dependent on someone else's return last year - half-year of college. Am I bugged about it? Well, yeah, but I also wasn't expecting it at all.

If I did get the rebate, it certainly wouldn't've changed my opinion of the entire tax system, or make me think, "Gosh, them politicians sure are nice!"

darukaru: Curious as to why you skipped over the "homes are purchased" part of that argument. Care to elaborate?
posted by hijinx at 2:49 PM on July 22, 2001


"We adjusted your taxes and now you owe us $143.00."

That's what I got in the fucking mail. Coincidence? I'll find out this week when I bring this letter over to my lawyer.


Heh, unless you pay your lawyer less than $143, it sounds like you can afford the tax ;)
posted by jragon at 2:58 PM on July 22, 2001


Joe Small-Businessman does understand these concepts, knows what he's getting into, and has a plan to pay it all back eventually, with profit to himself. That's the difference.

Of course Joe Dot-Com-CEO will just issue junk bonds.
posted by holgate at 3:03 PM on July 22, 2001


Postroad: do not confuse Not filing an income tax and thus not being entitled to recieve money with the fact that on many purchases one makes a tax is placed which goes to the governbment

I'm not confused about the fact that there are different types of taxes. I'm confused as to why some Democrats would think they could generate political capital because a lot of people don't know that there is a difference between a sales tax and an income tax. I actually have a very major problem with regressive taxation policies like sales taxes and payroll taxes. But those taxes (and my problems with them) are irrelevant to the issue of these tax rebates. These rebates are (and have never been sold as anything other than) rebates of income taxes previously paid. Anyone who thinks otherwise wasn't paying very good attention.
posted by dchase at 3:13 PM on July 22, 2001


hijinx: my first draft of that message said 'Joe Mortgage', and omitted the part about profits. The idea is pretty much the same, that you're taking on debt responsibly.
We wouldn't have so many credit counseling services (read: bailout companies) if more people understood debt and responsible money management. I'm trying to learn myself, so that I don't get caught in the same debt traps my parents were. They regularly carried walletsful of store credit cards, Visas, and MCs, and boy did they end up paying for it.
posted by darukaru at 3:58 PM on July 22, 2001


gd779: Why? Because the majority of their voting base votes for them for "moral" reasons (ie, the Religious Right) or for economic reasons. The moral vote is uneffected by this. And the majority of people who understand economics reasons well enough to endorse Republican economic policies are also quite likely to have paid income tax last year.

While I agree there are a lot of Bush voters who did so for 'moral' reasons because they buy into the whole "Democrats = liberalgodlesscommunists" nonsense, or the "Democrats = Bill Clinton's penis" equation, I disagree with the statement that the "majority of people who understand economics... likely to have paid... tax". I'm scrambling for the link, but can't find it- someone give the assist? There was a map of the "Red states" and "Blue states" in the last election, compared to which states paid more in federal taxes than they received. Surprise surprise, almost all the Bush states, usually more rural/ less urban, were debtor states receiving more in federal tax dollars than they paid out- this despite the usual Republican rhetoric about big gubmint welfare-receivin' liberal Democrats, of course. The Gore states, such as "Jew York" or NJ, were paying out more in federal taxes than they were receiving back (the difference principally because the more Democratic states also had a higher median income... and thus paid more in taxes!). Anyway, if someone can find a good link for that map... I think it was originally a project started by former Sen. Moynihan of NY.

And getting back to the topic I was hoping this thread would focus on, regardless of merit or good sense or deserving recipients, the question I'm wondering about is the perception of the voters. Diehard conservative Bush voters, like diehard Democratic voters, won't be swayed either way by the tax rebate, but supposedly there is this vast fungible "independent" centrist voting bloc, for whom not getting a tax rebate may have an effect on their voting.
posted by hincandenza at 4:15 PM on July 22, 2001



So basically this thread boils down to: people are stupid, will that make a difference?
posted by aramaic at 4:23 PM on July 22, 2001


it's now official
no tax relief for poor me
shoulda voted bush?

college kids beware!
your income not real money
you get nothing back

heard in the heartland:
hey cletus, where is our check?
you suckers, laughs bush.
posted by dogmatic at 4:45 PM on July 22, 2001


There was a map of the "Red states" and "Blue states" in the last election, compared to which states paid more in federal taxes than they received. Surprise surprise, almost all the Bush states, usually more rural/ less urban, were debtor states receiving more in federal tax dollars than they paid out- this despite the usual Republican rhetoric about big gubmint welfare-receivin' liberal Democrats, of course.

hincandenza is right about this, btw. And since most of bush's vote came from the heartland, I too am more than a bit curious about how they will respond to this news. After all, if you're in one of those states and you voted Bush because you believed he was going to magically deliver a $300 check with your name on it...Regardless of whether you deserved it or not, wouldn't you be a bit peeved that he didn't make good on this promise?
posted by dogmatic at 4:51 PM on July 22, 2001


That last post by dogmatic brought to you by Maynard G. Krebs...
posted by hincandenza at 4:51 PM on July 22, 2001


But then where did you think the Democrats get most of their voting base, anyway?
From those people who might still be fiscally conservative, but socially liberal? I vote Democrat because I feel, yes, the government SHOULD be involved in certain things, like protecting from discrimination, protecting social security, ensuring the education of children in public schools, etc. That, and I think the Republicans might sell my gay agnostic ass up the river.

But really... I know someone who works on the phones at the IRS. Someone called in to the line... here was their basic situation... They made ~20k last year. They had 6 kids. They got Earned Income Credit. Result: They received more back than the withholding they actually put it. (Because with EIC that is actually possible). So they wanted to know why they weren't getting their $500 check (they were head of household). They were told, "you did not pay any tax last year, so you have nothing to get back." Their response? "How does that help the poor people?" Not only do some people expect the government to give them money in the form of EIC, but then they also want to be given more money they did not pay in. Make me wonder if these people were watching the news when they said, "1% of the wealthiest..." The shame I see is that these people who are upset voted for G.W. because they (1) thought they were getting a load of money taken off their shoulders despite the fact they pay diddly squat now or (2) had an objection to where Bill Clinton puts his cigars and penis.
posted by benjh at 4:59 PM on July 22, 2001


My $300 is going straight to the EFF. I urge you all to do the same...
posted by fooljay at 5:02 PM on July 22, 2001


Side note... my $300 will be going to the savings for this.
posted by benjh at 5:04 PM on July 22, 2001


Votewise, I don't think this is going to make much of a difference at all. After all, Bush has about 2.5 more years to produce more bread and circuses for the population before the 2004 campaign starts in earnest. Most of us will have forgotten about the tax relief by then. The Dems might be able to stir up a little embarrassment in '02, but it'll have roughly the effect of a mosquito's fart in a hurricane in '04.
posted by darukaru at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2001


Side question: can mosquitoes fart? My guess is no, since they probably have wildly different digestive systems, and no colons to fart from. But I'm no entomologist.... :)

Anyway, my $300 will be donated to the HISCOAST* Foundation, which has been serving my community well and needs all the financial assistance it can get.

*That would the Hal Incandenza Snorting Coke Off A Stripper's Tits Foundation, since 2001 serving as an outreach to needy Hal Incandenza's, some of whom go to sleep at night having not even been able to snort coke off a stripper's tits that day! Won't you please help? Your donation can make a difference...
posted by hincandenza at 5:45 PM on July 22, 2001



don't think it's gonna happen, dakukaru.

because bush also has 2.5 more years to embarass himself before the 2004 campaign starts in earnest. i'm not of the opinion that bush will be able to right the wrong he's done himself in the first few months. in fact, i'm pretty well confident that his problems will continue as time goes on.

regardless, in the ultra-long term, it won't mean a thing. and that's because even if a dem takes the presidency in 2004, that person will be stuck reversing bush's damage. which means wholly unpopular tax increases and budget proposals.
posted by dogmatic at 5:46 PM on July 22, 2001


The $600 rebate check will be nice, but what about returning the rest of the 39% of our income they took?
posted by Chairman_MaoXian at 6:15 PM on July 22, 2001


After all, if you're in one of those states and you voted Bush because you believed he was going to magically deliver a $300 check with your name on it...Regardless of whether you deserved it or not, wouldn't you be a bit peeved that he didn't make good on this promise?

You might be, but you'd also be a big idiot, because there never was a promise of a $300 check from the Bush camp, it wasn't a campaign issue, and nobody voted for Bush because they wanted a $300 instant rebate. They may well have voted Bush because they wanted overall tax relief, and they're getting it. Not in the measure that Bush promised, but they're getting it nonetheless.

That said, the unthinking pseudo-progressives have been on a long tear of blaming Bush/Cheney for countless things that have nothing to do with them, so if that's how this gets spun, I won't be at all surprised. If the lesser-thinking types buy into that spin, so be it. There will always be people with nary a clue, and unfortunately, they vote. It's always been that way and always will be.
posted by Dreama at 6:55 PM on July 22, 2001


hicandenza: I've seen that map that you're talking about, and it's my uninformed best guess that the "morality" vote contributed quite a bit to that result. Perhaps clinton's hijinx while in office heightened that reaction on both sides of the aisle? I don't know.

almost all the Bush states, usually more rural/ less urban, were debtor states receiving more in federal tax dollars than they paid out

Well, of course. Republicans tend to be better with money. Which do you think is the better sign of fiscal responsibility... paying a lot and getting a little, or getting a lot and paying a little? Democrats also pay more in taxes. So there! (Actually I don't know the facts here. I'm just having some fun guessing).

The only point I was trying to make with the statement you questioned was that they typical "economic" Republican is going to be fluent enough in economics to not feel cheated when he/she doesn't get a $300 check. That's because, in contrast to stero-typical Democratic economics, Republican's don't provide hand-outs (except in the form of lower taxes, and I don't consider a refusal to take the same as a decision to give.) As such, every economic republican I've known has had at least a rudimentary knowledge of economics. I can't say the same for the Democrats I've known, because their strength typically lies elsewhere.

Also: what Dreama said. Particularly the point about people voting for Bush because they wanted overall (as opposed to personal) tax relief. Believe it or not, I knew quite a few prominent R's in MO who supported Bush, and they didn't care too terribly much about their personal pocketbook. They were interested in the principle of the thing.
posted by gd779 at 7:10 PM on July 22, 2001


I haven't received a letter yet. Does this mean I'll be getting the money?
posted by Neale at 7:42 PM on July 22, 2001


dogmatic: I never said he wouldn't screw up in other ways, just that the tax relief won't show on the radar. ;)
posted by darukaru at 8:57 PM on July 22, 2001


WTF! Where's my money? Even though I didn't pay any federal taxes, and I was claimed as a dependent, I still want my point 3 large!

That was a joke.
Anyway, I like how the Republican's keep emphasizing the word "relief". It's like there was a natural disaster, and now the GOP is sending in the Red Cross to give us "relief".
Man, this economy is just so hard on me, I don't think I can make it. But, oh! Now that the government gave me $300, I'm so relieved.

Maybe it's just my sheltered existence...
posted by ktheory at 9:00 PM on July 22, 2001


Hi, my name is Dong Resin, and I'm here today to tell you the wonderful news about George W. Bush.

George W. Bush? He's okay.

Yes, I know what you're saying. You're saying in that wonderfully shrill voice of yours "But Doug Resin, isn't Mr. Bush is an addlebrained, papered, rich boy, monkey-biting boytoucher?"

Well friend, in a word, no.

And my name isn't Doug.

No, rather than a spoiled, aging fratboy with horrifying ignorance about how most people on this great green earth live, George W. Bush is a keen intellect, with an eye to what is really important in keeping this great nation, and the world full of lesser, kind of funny smelling countries that idolize it, strong and secure.
George W. Bush is an Airman. A man of action. He knows how to pull this threatened Republic right from the jaws of fate. George W. Bush knows what must be done, and now, at long last, he has taken his first step to his place of historical greatness by one simple, brilliant act.

Namely, getting Dong Resin a new espresso machine.

Yes, Daddy Resin has been a wee bit grumpy these past few months. Some of you have noticed. Some of you have been threatening. But rest assured, all will soon be well.
Soon caffeine will rule the day.
Just as the monkey touched the pan-dimensional monolith that brought about the first use of tool by man, so soon will I, Dong Resin, have the ability to make a worthwhile cup of espresso, in the middle of the night, when I need it most, when those total lightweight pussy-ass grandmotherfuckers at Starbucks are asleep, so disappointingly displaying the textbook slave state behavior as foretold by Nietzsche. Yes, sleep, gentle, unsuspecting Starbucks employees. Sleep. Sleep the sleep of the damned.
For I will be bound to their soft, weak, pathetic whims no longer!

Amazing ignorance towards the cyberworld? Frightening hypocrisies? Blurring of church and state?
Pshaw. This man, this.... Prometheus who may suffer fire from the hands of the democrats, those worthless limp fuckwads who have given Dong Resin no coffee, no reason to love them, will prevail if not in his own time, then in the sanctifying pages of history, for he is the one who hath given greatness to us all. Or better, espresso, to me, Doug Resin.

Dong. Dong Resin.

*getting emotional*
Thank you, George W.
posted by dong_resin at 9:22 PM on July 22, 2001


Dong, you are beautiful.

As you can probably imagine, I never thought I would write those four words in that particular sequence, but there you have it.
posted by kindall at 9:29 PM on July 22, 2001


gd: exactly which economic theory is on the Republicans side? I just get a little miffed when we assume they're the economically smart ones.

I mean, in a recession tax cuts only work when they're unexpected. Basically, only in 1964. After that, we knew what to expect, change spending habits to adjust and the tax cut does nothing in terms of helping the economy. Any boost is through 'animal spirits', or basically the govt talking up business moral. Investment increases, no tax cut needed.

Adam Smith wouldn't go with Republicans way of thinking. They're Big Business, which doesn't allow the invisible hand to work. Just like govt intervention in France(I think) in business. And Keynes was all about govt spending in a recession. No tax cut there.

To say that Republicans are the leading economic minds who know what's right when it comes to money is idiocy. There's ample support of the Democrats view of economics to say that they have equal claim to being economically fiscal.
posted by witchycal at 9:43 PM on July 22, 2001


Dong_resin, I love you.

Don't take that the wrong way. Just take it, biotch.

I haven't received a letter yet. Does this mean I'll be getting the money?

Neale, you probably won't get a tax rebate because I believe that Matt lobbied for the garnishing of your check for expenses incurred. :-)

This site has good info on the when's, how's and what's of the tax rebate. Apparently the send-date is dependent on your SSN.
posted by fooljay at 9:55 PM on July 22, 2001


Hmmm.... what should I do with my voluminous tax rebate..... hmmmm..... put it towards my gargantuan student loan debt? .... ummm...... Buy a Playstation 2 (powered by the Emotion Engine)? .... ummm......

Fuck it. I'm goin to Disneyland!
posted by TheShovel at 11:54 PM on July 22, 2001


I donated money to the DNC for the first time recently. Thanks Bush. By the way, "DNC" reminds me a lot of Dilberts New Ruling Class.
posted by mecran01 at 5:26 AM on July 23, 2001


You might be, but you'd also be a big idiot, because there never was a promise of a $300 check from the Bush camp, it wasn't a campaign issue, and nobody voted for Bush because they wanted a $300 instant rebate. They may well have voted Bush because they wanted overall tax relief, and they're getting it. Not in the measure that Bush promised, but they're getting it nonetheless.

A $300 check wasn't a campaign promise, no. But the promised tax relief has come to us (at least immediately) is in the form of a $300 check. If you equate that $300 check with tax relief, as some have (see benjh's story above), then you probably will not believe that you are recieving tax relief at all. The layman will not understand overall tax relief unless he gets a cut. And if he doesn't, then it was a vote wasted, was it not?

If the lesser-thinking types buy into that spin, so be it. There will always be people with nary a clue, and unfortunately, they vote. It's always been that way and always will be.

Yes it has. Unfortunately, or fortunately, those people with nary a clue voted for your man this time around. But I don't remember you dismissing the voters as idiots in November or December.

Point is, the lesser-thinking types believed that they would be helped by Bush's tax-relief. By and large, they may not be. Who's to be blamed for that? Bush, or them for voting Bush? Surely they won't blame themselves.
posted by dogmatic at 5:36 AM on July 23, 2001


The layman will not understand overall tax relief unless he gets a cut. And if he doesn't, then it was a vote wasted, was it not?

For this country's sake, I hope that all of our voters aren't that selfish...

Also: Dong rocks!
posted by gd779 at 5:53 AM on July 23, 2001


A $300 check wasn't a campaign promise, no. But the promised tax relief has come to us (at least immediately) is in the form of a $300 check.

And the way in which tax relief was presented, in Bush's first speech on taxation as President (Feb 6th) was in the form of a giant refund cheque made out to "US Taxpayer" for $1600. So one might justifiably argue that this "visual aid" has somewhat guided the presentation of the issue ever since.

dong_resin:
stove-top moka pot, $40.
Not having a show-off espresso machine that will probably blow up on you: priceless.
posted by holgate at 5:59 AM on July 23, 2001


Blasphemer!
Moka pots? You may as well swill a frenchman's piss.
posted by dong_resin at 6:24 AM on July 23, 2001


Tivo Player: $300
Espresso Maker and Nice Set of Coffee Cups: $275
Subscription to your fave trad rag: $250
Knowing/Hoping this could all backfire and kick GW in the ass: Priceless
posted by benjh at 7:02 AM on July 23, 2001


I'm sorry, I'm confused. How can you get a rebate of monies you didn't pay? According to the article, these 32 million won't be getting an income tax rebate check because they, um, didn't pay any income tax.

But the depressing part is that they did pay over 15% of all the income they made in "payroll taxes" for Social Security and Medicare. Democrats and Republicans who are serious about helping out the poorest of the poor with the lowest of the low incomes would do well to analyze the payroll tax system, which is terribly regressive and monumentally unfair.

I was supposed to save thousands under Bush, but instead I get $300? That's kind of weird.

Of course, the $300 rebate is only on the portion of your income subject to the 15% tax bracket. Income above that level is taxed at a different rate which is not being lowered right away and for which you will not receive a rebate but instead will just see a decrease in federal income tax withholding on your paycheck. You may indeed save thousands, but the government won't be sending you a check for it.
posted by daveadams at 8:29 AM on July 23, 2001


You may indeed save thousands, but the government won't be sending you a check for it.

Which raises the question: precisely how much does this avalanche of paperwork cost, compared to, say, a tax credit for next year?
posted by holgate at 8:44 AM on July 23, 2001


last year's college tuition: $35,000
last year's federal aid: $0
hoping this will kick gw in the ass: not worth it.
posted by rabi at 8:44 AM on July 23, 2001


(tuition = shorthand for tuition + room + board + textbooks, in case anyone thinks I'm just making stuff up.)
posted by rabi at 8:46 AM on July 23, 2001


I'm feelin' the same pain, rabi. But hoping it does kick'em in the arse.
posted by gramcracker at 9:00 AM on July 23, 2001


But the depressing part is that they did pay over 15% of all the income they made in "payroll taxes" for Social Security and Medicare. Democrats and Republicans who are serious about helping out the poorest of the poor with the lowest of the low incomes would do well to analyze the payroll tax system, which is terribly regressive and monumentally unfair.


Payroll taxes aren't taxes. They're insurance payments. You pay into the plan, and you might draw a benefit. The fact that they're using the tax system to get the money from you is immaterial. It's still a premium payment.

Remember back when it was still called FICA? The "I" is for Insurance.

Medicare and Medicaid are also insurance plans.

Wouldn't it be nice to not pay for insurance, but still receive benefits? Everyone wants the "don't charge you, don't charge me, charge the guy behind that tree" system, except the guy behind the tree....
posted by dwivian at 1:43 PM on July 23, 2001


Medicare and Medicaid are also insurance plans.
Yes, mandatory, inescapable insurance plans.

Oh wait, no, they are welfare.
posted by thirteen at 2:04 PM on July 23, 2001


You don't have to use Medicare or Medicaid if you don't want to. I'd rather have some sort of care for the elderly and poor than no care at all.
posted by gramcracker at 2:39 PM on July 23, 2001


You don't have to use Medicare or Medicaid if you don't want to.

No, but you do have to pay the taxes/premiums no matter how little money you make.

Payroll taxes aren't taxes. They're insurance payments

Your semantic trickery is meaningless. It's a tax or its a mandatory premium. But what's the difference? A tax is a mandatory payment to the government. Since FICA and Medicare "premiums" are assessed based on my income, they are income taxes regardless of what other words you may want to call them.

Regardless, my point is this: if Democrats and/or Republicans are really concerned about helping the poorest of the poor with tax relief, they should look into lowering these regressive taxes/mandatory premiums for the poorest of the poor. Why make the poor people pay for it? The rich can contribute more and the poor's money can be better spent on other things.

I'd rather have some sort of care for the elderly and poor than no care at all.

Hey, that sounds great. Now, why are we making the elderly and poor pay for it? If our goal is to help them, why don't we do so?
posted by daveadams at 10:30 PM on July 23, 2001


The rich can contribute more and the poor's money can be better spent on other things.
I was with you till you got to that. Why should the rich have to pay more? It reminds me of the
bank robber proverb about banks being where the money is. I don't think it is very wise to make
unwilling people the foundation of the countries social programs.
I'd rather have some sort of care for the elderly and poor than no care at all.
I would like a pony.
posted by thirteen at 11:30 PM on July 23, 2001


I don't think it is very wise to make unwilling people the foundation of the countries social programs

Well, I don't think it is very wise to make unwilling people the foundation of great wealth. Yet plenty of my tax dollars go to subsidize supposedly free market corporations. If you want to cut taxes, we should start not with medicare or social security but with the hundreds of billions that go to already profitable corporations in the form of tax breaks, military protection of their exploitation of foreign natural resources and labor markets, tax subsidies, grants for overseas advertising, and of course tax payer built factories (or sports stadiums). And I want a pony, too.

The rich should pay more not only because they can, but more importantly because their largesse is possible only due to the stability of the economy guaranteed by tax revenue, especially their own. In other words, individual wealth should be a happy benefit of a stable economy with a solid middle class. Just about every first world strong stable economy has socialist underpinnings, because it's the only way they could gain the social and economic foundation upon which wealth was built.
posted by hincandenza at 12:44 AM on July 24, 2001



Just about every first world strong stable economy has socialist underpinnings

I'm venturing a little outside my area of expertise with this post, so I'm open to correction on both my facts and my interpretation.

Still, I'll quibble with you, hicandenza, on two points:

1) It's been about a year since I looked, but last time I checked there weren't all that many "strong" first world economy's. Stable, sure. But most of europe is stagnating. The EU, anyone?

The U.S. pretty consistently has the strongest economy in the world and we're the least socialist (and yes, I know that there are also examples of countries with decent economies that are also socialist. The problem is much more complex than socialism/no socialism. But I'm disputing your assertion that socialism is the only route to long-term prosperity).

2) A great many 2nd and 3rd world countries also have socialist underpinnings, and their economies are piss-poor. I don't think that you can draw a correlation here between socialism and a good economy. Rather, I think that just about every first world economy has socialist underpinnings because:
A) it's very difficult to resist the lure of Robin Hood thinking. As dwivian said, everybody loves the "don't charge you, don't charge me, charge the guy behind that tree" system. Hand-outs get votes. Also:
B) Once such systems are in place, it's almost impossible to remove them. Think of the third rail of American politics. Despite being a supposedly temporary measure, Roosevelt predicted that nobody would ever be able to remove it. Because once the people get used to counting on the government for something instead of relying on themselves, it's very difficult to get them to give it up.
posted by gd779 at 4:37 AM on July 24, 2001


But most of europe is stagnating. The EU, anyone?

Yes please. (Been to Europe recently? It's not as bad as they tell you.) Most of the continent isn't hamstrung by an excessive attachment to equities: it may not flourish so well in a stock boom, but it's less susceptible to a downturn. The US is heading for a meltdown because the markets have become the economy, buoyed by the premise that the rules of investment have changed: reading of cases like this one (NYTimes, blah etc blah), where two Morgan Stanley brokers bubbled away someone's retirement income, I can't help wondering how many others have suffered to a lesser extent from trusting the hype of such "professionals".

The word "socialist" has been devalued to the point of meaninglessness in American political discourse: better to say that societies with a strong public infrastructure are less dynamic, but more resiliant than ones that hand over a greater degree control to the market. It's like an investment choice between stocks and bonds, where the "conservative" choice, to emphasise value over growth, is traditionally the one of the left.
posted by holgate at 6:16 AM on July 24, 2001


And rather than start a new thread, here's a good place to point out the latest Economist survey, which is (as ever) meticulously researched and corrected me on a few misconceptions: The new wealth of nations. (Especially the sections on tax avoidance and the burdens of wealth.)
posted by holgate at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2001


I have long said that subsidies for businesses are foolish.

So are taxes on businesses. You can never tax a business. You can merely tax their stockholders, customers, or employees. A business is merely a money-shuttling service, and taxation of it is stupid.

So, kill all corporate taxes, and kill all corporate subsidies. In one action you'll eliminate most of the lobby in Washington and free up tons of cash (either in the hands of business, or in the hands of government) for use elsewhere. The initial effect may be negligable, but something big will change afterwards.
posted by dwivian at 7:00 AM on July 24, 2001


Yet plenty of my tax dollars go to subsidize supposedly free market corporations. If you want to cut taxes, we should start not with Medicare or social security but with the hundreds of billions that go to already profitable corporations in the form of tax breaks

You position is not entirely at odds with mine. I do not wish to subsidize these things either. If they can go first, fine, I will still want to eliminate Medicare and social security afterwards. If Med and social sink first, I won't stop wanting the bigger monkey off my back.

Just about every first world strong stable economy has socialist underpinnings
That does not mean ever country has to.

The rich should pay more not only because they can, but more importantly because their largesse is possible only due to the stability of the economy guaranteed by tax revenue, especially their own.
This really isn't true, huge fortunes were stockpiled before taxes and social programs as we know them were created. Our current way is not the only way, and it does not strike me as being remotely fair. Our rich government paves everything and promotes sprawl, has the money to oppress other nations, and is well positioned to stand down the entire population (possibly the world). As long as they can use the feel good programs like those you support as a shield they can always justify reaching into my pocket.

. In other words, individual wealth should be a happy benefit of a stable economy with a solid middle class.
I am not sure where the "should" comes from, but I like to imagine my preferences are the way things should be too.
posted by thirteen at 7:44 AM on July 24, 2001


But some 32 million Americans are due no tax rebate, and are now receiving notices in the mail to this effect- a letdown that Democrats are trying to capitalize on. Is the tax break going to backfire on Bush and the Republicans... ?

The only people who won't be getting rebates are those who paid no income taxes. It is unlikely these folks ever considered voting Rpublican, if they ever voted at all. (Many of these folks probably aren't even citizens.)

The only backlash from the rebate will be if Dick Gephardt keeps talking about raising taxes.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, those people with nary a clue voted for your man this time around. But I don't remember you dismissing the voters as idiots in November or December.

Actually, they meant to vote for Gore, but just couldn't puzzle out the ballot instructions. According to some recent studies, those folks are disproportionately of the paid-no-income-taxes-at-all segment. And yes, a lot of folks dismissed them as idiots last year.
posted by mikewas at 12:19 PM on July 24, 2001


Why make the poor people pay for it? The rich can contribute more and the poor's money can be better spent on other things.

Such as? Can you name one thing that the working "poor" can spend their money on that the "rich" can't also spend their money on, and why the poor should be exempted from societal obligations in order to do so?

Thirty years ago, the ratio of retirees collecting Social Security benefits to workers paying into the system was 1:30. By 2010, it will be 1:2. Not only is our population aging overall, it is living longer, hence receiving more and more dollars that were never accounted for when the ponzi scheme that is SS was planned.

If people were to be exempted from paying into the SS system on an income basis, eventually every worker making a decent salary would be subjected to ever-increasing percentages of that salary being spirited away as the ratio goes to 1:1 or 2:1 or worse. What does that solve?

By shifting the burden, there would be a much larger cash draw from a smaller number of workers, creating a whole new set of people who would classify as working "poor" -- not because they didn't earn much, but because their earnings were being so highly taxed. Instead of solving a "problem" it would create many more.
posted by Dreama at 2:45 PM on July 24, 2001


To answer my own question: this admittedly biased MSNBC editorial says it'll cost $31m to send out the refund cheques and the IRS letters. Ow.
posted by holgate at 4:57 PM on July 24, 2001


If poor people have more spending money (instead of rich people), the economy becomes more stable, because poor people tend to be less effected by economic fluctuations.

Btw, doesn't Christianity support hand-outs? Maybe Bush should pay more attention to the Religious Right...
posted by Ptrin at 5:20 PM on July 24, 2001


Christianity also supports a ten percent taxation rate --

"If it is good enough for God, it should be good enough for the IRS".
posted by dwivian at 7:20 AM on July 25, 2001


Christianity also supports a ten percent taxation rate --

Hey. It's from the Old Testament.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:26 AM on July 25, 2001


But, that's 10% to the government, and 10% to the church, and the remaining 80% to be given not only to yourself, but also as often as possible to those in need. Not only that, but you're actually supposed to take them in, in the literal sense, not just in the monetary sense.

Boy, I'm glad I'm not Jewish anymore :)
posted by Ptrin at 2:36 PM on July 28, 2001


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