Issue Number 21 - December 19, 2002




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The actual character of the Bush regime, how relentlessly its component corporate parts pursue their ideological and practical agenda, is revealed in the administration's intention to repeal a little known and never financed family leave benefit.

The Clinton administration issued a regulation allowing states to provide unemployment benefits to workers who take time off to care for their newborn children. However, only California actually offered the benefit, and did not pay for the leave-time from unemployment insurance trust funds. The rest of the states ignored family leave, while the Clinton boom-bubble passed into history. In the current economic straights, Bush's Labor Department says the government cannot afford to pay for a benefit that nobody ever got.

The Bush men are nothing if not thorough, leaving no benefit to working people untouched, including non-existent ones.

Overtaxed rich strike back

The insatiable rich, who will control both Houses of Congress in January, have their servants in the Treasury Department cooking the national statistics to prove that the poor aren't paying their fair share of taxes. To pull off this mathematical magic, White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey has declared that the Social Security Tax, FICA, must - disappear! Not really disappear, of course; 12.4% will still come out of every working person's paycheck. It just won't be called a "tax."

When Social Security contributions are made to vanish from the tax column, rich people appear to be paying a larger share of taxes. This is, of course, contrary to the American way (and could even present a terrorist threat - write that down for the boss, Lindsey.) Once FICA payments are erased from the vocabulary of taxation, additional taxes can be levied on lower and middle-income people to take their place, thus sparing the rich from participating in the finance of costly projects like Bush's $200 billion Iraqi war and the new anti-missile defense contracts.

Lindsey and his colleague R. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, vetted the scheme with the people whom the rich pay to mold public opinion: a gathering of the American Enterprise Institute. Other rightwing think tanks were in attendance, assuring an acceptable quorum for the workings of American democracy under Republican rule.

Despite the mounting costs to the public treasury of providing the wealthy with a standard of after-tax income to which they desire to become accustomed, the rich can rest easy, Lindsey and Hubbard soothed. The Treasury Department's experts are busy creating new mathematical tables that will "make the poor appear to be paying less in taxes and the rich to be paying more," wrote the December 16 Washington Post.

It's all in how you frame the issue. According to the evolving White House line, Social Security is not a tax, but a deposit on future benefits, since contributors will get a return on their payments in older age. Workers should consider FICA deductions as a kind of Christmas club, said Lindsey with a straight face.

Now, taxes on the stock dividends that allow rich people to sit on their behinds while becoming even richer, that's double taxation, Bush men have always maintained. (And a definite threat to national security. Write that down for the boss, too, Lindsey.)

The self-proclaimed born-agains in the Bush-Cheney Circle of Profitable Prayer have elevated ascension to wealth and the perpetual retention of riches to a religious conviction. They are Mullahs of Moola! Thus, it would be in accordance with their theology to ban secular tax terminology entirely. Call the Social Security deduction a tithe, instead. The working poor can benefit, by and by, when they are old and about to die.

Can we get a ching-a-ling and an amen to that?

Sub-contracting salvation

Republicans have long lamented that too few African Americans belong to their peculiar Church of Faith In Finance - a moral issue requiring the laying on of federal contracts. Over the past few months, thousands of Black clergy have been brought under the tents pitched by the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. These Republican revival meetings offer a lot more than prayer cloths to those who are willing to sing in the President's choir. He has instructed the deacons of five cabinet departments to lavishly dispense contracts to the newly converted, whose happy feet will carry them to the nearest local Black Republican clubhouse every Tuesday after the checks arrive.

In secular terms, Bush is determined to create the material basis for a Black class beholden to the Republican Party. Once this corrupt, grasping crowd is on the contracting rolls, we will never be rid of their corrosive influence. (See "Trent Lott Furor Threatens Faith-based Bribery Scheme," in this issue.)

The faith-based initiatives must be defeated in the coming Congress. Failing that, the laws and regulations resulting from this unconstitutional legislation must be challenged without pause, in all federal departments, in every locality, contract by individual contract, through all legal and political means, so that the massive Black bribery scheme is made unworkable. Otherwise, we are lost, lost, lost.

Lott's momma in da hood

Trent Lott is not just a bad seed - he comes from sorry stock. His mother was a violence-prone racist, who appears to have committed the criminal act of making a "terrorist threat" back when terror ruled in Mississippi.

When the family moved to Pascagoula, Mississippi, on the Gulf shore, white shipyard workers like Lott's father wanted to keep all the jobs for themselves. They carried out a campaign of intimidation against Black job seekers and, when the local Pascagoula Times spoke against the violence, they shot out editor Ira Harkey's office windows.

The December 15 New York Times reports:

Some time later, Mr. Harkey said, he received a letter from a woman who told him that if he did not publish her letter it would prove "you are truly an integrationist and I hope you not only get a hole through your office door but through your stupid head." It was signed Iona W. Lott - Mr. Lott's mother. "I called her, asked if she'd sent it to me, and she said she certainly had sent it to me and she meant every word," said Mr. Harkey, now 84.

Trent was a momma's boy, for sure. The NYT recounts that he "was especially close to his mother's brother, Arnie Watson, a schoolteacher and onetime leader of the county chapter of the White Citizens Councils." When the white collar Klan changed its name to the Council of Conservative Citizens, Uncle Arnie became a board member. Arnie more recently told the Washington Post that Blacks "should have been left in their native country."

Trent Lott told BET's Ed Gordon that part of his penance to African Americans would be to push even more vigorously for passage of Bush's faith-based initiatives. We can assume that Lott subscribes to the same religious views as Uncle Arnie, who opined to the Post, "This mixing races, the Lord didn't intend for it to be that way."

Lott's political genes will pollute Mississippi deep into the future. His daughter, Tyler Lott Armstrong, joined old family acquaintance and neo-Klansman Richard Barrett for a press conference, Friday the 13th, outside the site of Lott's hometown apology-to-Blacks-number-four.

"My father is a wonderful man, who has always stood tall," said Ms. Lott Armstrong. "The news media has twisted his words. He has good character, he's a Christian man and a good man and has been a wonderful family man, with his children and all."

One wonders if she has any siblings lurking in "the woodpile." (See "Strom Thurmond's Black Daughter," in this issue.)

New York Times, December 15, "Lott's Life, Long Shadows of Segregation"

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