Friday, March 20, 2009

What Matters More: New Taxes or Old Ones?

So the NY Times lead story is this: The House passed a 90 percent levy on bonuses paid with bailout money. Two words: What.Ever.

On page A18, or somewhere back there, there was this small AP story, the headline of which says it all: "13 Firms That Received Bailout Money Owe Back Taxes." More than $220 million in back taxes.

Now, we know from the bonus discussion that when you're talking billions, $220 million, just like $165 million, isn't all that much money. Right? But still, it'd be better if those taxes were paid, don't you think? And wouldn't you rather the tax code and regulations were such that if companies, multi-billion dollar companies, didn't pay their taxes they'd get, like, fined. And they'd have to pay their fines, and not with trips for senators on corporate jets or to the Bahamas or fancy dinners but with actual dollars to the IRS and not PACS. And if Congress can "overwhelmingly" pass a bill on a retroactive tax that might not even be legal, why can't it pass some real reform? Hmmmm, that must have something to do with how wide that reform net would have to be cast and how long the pain of hating Wall Street might last. Because right now Wall Street just has to take its whipping, but unless something real happens, this will be just a tender moment of humiliation, a passing shower, some floating leaves, before the Times tells us someone down on The Street is happy again. (Granted even as I write this I feel like maybe this moment of outrage won't go by so quickly, but you never know, and wouldn't it be a shame to waste?)

See, the worst part is I'm writing all this and I have no evidence for any of it, other than the back of the book Free Lunch: How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense (and stick you with the bill), by David Cay Johnston, which I read this morning --just the back, not the whole book. Along with that deep well of evidence, there's my twisted populist outrage, which I love to hate and hate to love. But what the heck? What are blogs for anyway, right?

Happy Spring everyone!

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