Whenever Washington starts patting itself on the back - whenever politicians of both parties start praising each other on an economic issue - hold onto your wallet, because you are about to get fleeced. That's precisely what happened during the debate over the economic "stimulus" package, as I show in my new nationally syndicated column out today.
Though Democrats did win manage to include some progressive tax rebates in the final package, roughly $70 billion of the agreement is business tax cuts - yet another gift to K Street and the corporate interests that need help the least. Instead of strengthening the social safety net, which would get cash flowing in the economy the fastest, Congress is opting for tax cuts that experts say would not hit the economy for months.
The package shows just how skewed our economic and tax debate still is on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Despite the Democracy Corps' most recent poll showing that Americans are ready to embrace major progressive tax reform, Democrats quickly embraced the tax cut frame. Despite the Bush Treasury Department admitting that America has one of the lowest effective corporate tax rates in the developed world, Republicans are saying with a straight face that the way to make America more competitive is to cut corporate tax rates further.
The whole thing reeks of politics and payoffs - as usual. Here we have major health care, unemployment, public infrastructure and housing crises, and our government is once again stumbling over itself to hand over more of the federal treasury to private corporate interests - many of the same interests that caused the current financial meltdown. If historians does look back at this era as the beginning of America's diminishing strength, they will hold up this "stimulus" package as a pristine example of what went wrong.
Go read the whole column here. If you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site.