President Bush said during the third election debate last October that most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans. In fact, most - 53 percent - will go to people with incomes in the top 10 percent over the first 15 years of the cuts, which began in 2001 and would have to be reauthorized in 2010. And more than 15 percent will go just to the top 0.1 percent, those 145,000 taxpayers.
The above is from David Cay Johnston's "Richest Are Leaving Even the Rich Far Behind" in this morning's New York Times. The article's worth reading and we're about to provide another excerpt; however, I wanted to be sure that everyone registered the paragraph above.
The people at the top of America's money pyramid have so prospered in recent years that they have pulled far ahead of the rest of the population, an analysis of tax records and other government data by The New York Times shows. They have even left behind people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Call them the hyper-rich.
They are not just a few Croesus-like rarities. Draw a line under the top 0.1 percent of income earners - the top one-thousandth. Above that line are about 145,000 taxpayers, each with at least $1.6 million in income and often much more.
The average income for the top 0.1 percent was $3 million in 2002, the latest year for which averages are available. That number is two and a half times the $1.2 million, adjusted for inflation, that group reported in 1980. No other income group rose nearly as fast.
The share of the nation's income earned by those in this uppermost category has more than doubled since 1980, to 7.4 percent in 2002. The share of income earned by the rest of the top 10 percent rose far less, and the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell.
"[T]he share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell." To repeat for emphasis, "the share earned by the bottom 90 percent fell."
Before our spirits sink like stones, let's turn to amusement in this morning's New York Times -- Elisabeth Bumiller attempts to explain those White House Letters columns, or at least justify them to herself, in "If They Gave Nobels for Networking. . .:"
Mr. Woodward, anxious and confused about his future, nonetheless displayed the kind of terrier instincts that would later serve him so well. He peppered Mr. Felt with questions about his job, extracted his phone number and over the years cultivated Mr. Felt as a mentor and friend. When the Watergate break-in occurred, the fledgling Washington Post reporter had a vital relationship with the leaker, christened Deep Throat, who had no small part in bringing down a president and making Mr. Woodward's career.
In short, it was a lesson in what is now called networking, or the importance of personal relationships in the small town of the nation's capital.
Yes, networking is key to the Elite Fluff Patrol. As squad leader, Bumiller knows that better than many. (In fairness, there was an improvement in recent articles. And this is an article, from the Week in Review section, not a White House Letter.)
Eddie e-mails to highlight this from Eric Lichtblau's "From Advocacy to Terrorism, a Line Blurs:"
Supporters question why, if Mr. Al-Arian is as dangerous as federal authorities make him out to be, they did not lock him up until 2003 after wiretapping him for years and watching him meet with senior Republicans and Democrats. Mr. Al-Arian campaigned for President Bush in 2000, was photographed with him at a campaign stop, and took part in a White House briefing with Karl Rove in 2001, one of many political contacts that his defense lawyers indicate they may raise as evidence of his solid credentials.
The case, which became a major issue in last year's Senate campaign in Florida, has left divided camps of friends and foes from Tampa to Washington, with even some one-time supporters of Mr. Al-Arian now questioning his activities. In February 2003, John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general, personally announced the indictment of Mr. Al-Arian, identifying him as the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Mr. Ashcroft said the group was responsible for the murders of many dozens of people, and he pointed to the prosecution of Mr. Al-Arian as a prime example of the government's efforts to "choke off terrorist resources and financing."
Justice Department officials credit changes under the Patriot Act that allowed intelligence agents and criminal prosecutors to share information more easily for bringing the case to prosecution. Although the F.B.I. had been monitoring Mr. Al-Arian since the early 1990's as part of a foreign intelligence investigation, officials said the results were slow to reach prosecutors because of legal impediments and turf battles.
Erika e-mails to note the Associated Press' "Rape Counselor Fights Warrant Over Opening Cadet's File:"
A rape counselor who has refused to give a military court records of her sessions with a former Air Force Academy cadet asked a judge on Friday to prevent the military from arresting her and forcing her to turn over the information.
The counselor, Jennifer Bier, filed for a temporary restraining order in Federal District Court here. A warrant had been issued for her arrest for refusing to turn over the records.
The former cadet Ms. Bier counseled is one of the women whose accusations about sexual assault touched off a scandal in 2003 that toppled the academy's top leaders.
Gina e-mails to note Lisa W. Foderaro's "A Lawmaker Is Criticized Over E-Mail With Entergy:"
In early May, a legislator in Westchester County said that he had spotted a piece of paper in the parking lot as he was heading to his car after a long public meeting with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
"I hate litter so if I see paper I tend to pick it up and throw it away," said the Democratic legislator, Michael B. Kaplowitz, who opposes the power plant.
What he had found was a printout of an e-mail exchange between an official of Entergy Nuclear Northeast, the plant's owner, and another county legislator, Robert P. Astorino, the Republican nominee in the race for county executive. The exchange included talking points for the meeting from Entergy's director of communications, Larry Gottlieb.
A copy of the e-mail printout was given to The New York Times by a third party who is not involved in politics or in Indian Point issues, and Mr. Kaplowitz confirmed its discovery. In a telephone interview, Mr. Kaplowitz criticized Mr. Astorino for letting Entergy script his response to the Democratic county executive, Andrew J. Spano, who is running for re-election and is a relentless opponent of Indian Point.
Susan e-mails to note Christine Hauser's "Abbas Postpones Elections in Move Rejected by Hamas:"
Mr. Abbas's decree said a new date would be announced in another presidential order after "completing necessary legal steps and national consultations."
The announcement confirmed expectations of a postponement that have been growing since last month, when the Palestinian elections commission said more time was needed to solve differences over changes to the law that focused largely on how legislative seats are filled.
Mr. Abbas's faction, Fatah, faces challenges from Hamas, which is expected to make a strong showing in the parliamentary election, the first in which it has agreed to take part. Hamas spokesmen have responded to expectations of a delay by saying Mr. Abbas was maneuvering to hold on to power.
"Abbas's postponement decision was unilateral," a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said in a statement. "He did not consult with Palestinian movements.
Cedric e-mails to note Celia W. Dugger's "U.S. Challenged to Increase Aid to Africa:"
But when President Bush was asked this week about Mr. Blair's effort, as well as a British proposal to raise money for development on capital markets, he replied, "It doesn't fit our budgetary process."
The president hastened to add that he hoped to advance a "compassion agenda" when Mr. Blair plays host to leaders of the Group of 8 industrialized nations in Scotland next month, but any new Africa pact would certainly be weakened without American support.
Underlying this debate are differences over Africa's readiness to absorb the additional $25 billion in aid Mr. Blair advocates. The Europeans favor a quick and bold surge in spending that officials in Paris and London say will make it possible for Africa to join the global economy.
Their view is buttressed by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Blair's Africa commission and a panel of experts appointed by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
All have said that many African nations are improving governance, fighting corruption and growing economically, and could make good use of more aid.
Bush administration officials say they, too, believe aid can help. They note that the United States has tripled aid to Africa to $3.2 billion since Mr. Bush took office, with initiatives to tackle AIDS and to assist well-governed countries. Financing for those programs will grow in coming years, they say.
I have some issues with the Times report. But rather than go into that, I'll refer you to Rolling Stone's "An Epidemic Failure: Whatever happened to Bush's pledge to combat AIDS in Africa?" by Geraldine Sealey which should make the problems with the Times (full) report obvious:
Dubbed the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the ambitious agenda provided the administration with some much-needed PR at the very moment it was preparing to defy international will by invading Iraq. But from the start, Bush has failed to deliver on the funding he promised -- and what little money he has provided is being used to promote a right-wing agenda that undercuts international efforts and puts millions of people in AIDS-ravaged countries at greater risk of infection and death.
Thanks to the president's foot-dragging, his "emergency plan" took its sweet time getting going. Bush requested only $2 billion for PEPFAR in its first year -- a billion less than one would expect. Then, when Congress decided to approve $400 million more than the president asked for, Bush unsuccessfully fought to block the increase. By the time the first relief funds arrived in Africa, nearly a year and a half had passed since the president announced his plan -- a costly delay in fighting an epidemic that claims 8,500 lives every day.
The administration insists it will meet its goal by 2008, saying it planned all along to gradually "ramp up" the program. But public-health experts say it looks increasingly unlikely that Bush will fulfill his promise -- and that even if he does, the money will fall far short of what is needed. According to UNAIDS, a partnership involving the World Bank and nine other international aid groups, the world needs to spend $20 billion a year by 2007 to wage an effective war against AIDS. What Bush proposes to spend annually, if funding remains constant, is less than half the $6.6 billion that America would be expected to contribute based on the size of its economy. "The fact that the United States can spend $300 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but cannot find a relative pittance to rescue the human condition in Africa -- there is something profoundly out of whack about that," says Stephen Lewis, the secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The president's AIDS initiative, like his invasion of Iraq, is a go-it-alone affair that ignores the clear global consensus on how to fight AIDS. In launching his own initiative, Bush has shifted the bulk of U.S. money away from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, an international organization that has funded projects in 128 countries and is widely recognized as the best way to distribute AIDS funds. "Bush is starving the fund," says Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "It's despicable, frankly."
That covers all that caught members and my own attention. (We may have missed something, such is life. Or, as Kat says, "It is what it is.") There's an Isaiah illustration to go up but I've done this entry and the one above it while on break from The Third Estate Sunday Review. We're still working on the edition. So I'll be posting Isaiah's illustration on the next break.
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