While the Republican Congress is on its way to eliminate the estate tax, the number of Americans who fell into poverty last year rose to 37 million - up 1.1 million from 2003 - according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday.
It marks the fourth straight increase in the government's annual poverty measure. At the same time while household income remained flat, the number of people without health insurance edged up by about 800,000 to 45.8 million people. Overall, the nation's poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent of the population last year. Of the 37 million living below the poverty level, close to a third were children.
More to the point, since Bush/Kline have been in office the number of poor Americans have grown each year ...coincidence? I don't think so...the facts speak for themselves.
Given the increase rise in poverty, and our recent painful reminders of what poverty looks like by the daily coverage of the Gulf Coast victims, and the gross failure of the Bush administration to invest in our own infrastructure, you would think the US Senate wouldn't vote to permanently abolish the federal estate tax...the only tax on large inheritances of wealth.
Still the Republican's can't be bothered to protect our country's poor. Instead the GOP wants to pass a trillion dollar tax break for billionaires! The size of our county's current deficit alone should make abolishing the federal estate tax a criminal offense. How many more cuts and rebates to the wealthy can we heap on the backs of the poor before they completely break?
There's no clearer evidence of the cost of such cuts than the devastations brought on by numerous slashes to programs meant to prepare and plan for emergencies. The poor planning and the shameful federal response following Hurricane Katrina are just symptoms of these deep cuts. Add in the current lack of funding for education, for early childhood learning, for medical coverage, for the deteriorating infrastructure, for our inadequate community transportation...et al... and our country is in deep trouble. What was once first rate is now third world.
The progressive estate tax is paid only by multi-millionaires and billionaires. Currently, the first 1.5 million is exempt (3 for couples) and by 2009 that raises to 3.5 million (7 for couples). We're talking wealthy....and not necessarily working wealth...it is, after all, an inheritance.
Some more reasons for needing this fair and progressive tax on the wealthy ...
The number of people without health insurance coverage grew from 45 million to 45.8 million last year.Charles Nelson, an assistant division chief at the Census Bureau, said the percentage of uninsured remained steady because of an "increase in government coverage, notably Medicaid and the state children's health insurance program that offset a decline in employment-based coverage."
There was a great article on the TomPaine website today that detailed what services the estate tax could fund - healthcare for children in poverty was about 22 million children.
It's time to take care of America's citizens, all of them, not just the wealthy. We need to return to the values that made this country great. Where all the people were treated with dignity and respect regardless of their bank account. Where the tax responsibility fell evenly across the social economic class instead of exempting those most able to carry the responsibility. Call Kline today and tell him it's time for everyone to pay their fair including the wealthy. When it comes time for a vote, will Kline support you or his wealthy friends?