Page One

Students rally against Bush tax cuts

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Friday May 04, 2001

A group of UC Berkeley sociology students donned traditional blues garb and took up instruments to mock a congressional agreement approving President George W. Bush’s $1.25 trillion tax cut: 

“The rich are hurting, there’s a dot-com crisis 

Got to bail them out before we’re all ignited 

Help Donald Trump! Save Bill Gates! 

They need a little boost to buy some bigger estates.” 

The Wealth-Weilding Wailers, who put their act together especially for the rally, sang to a crowd of about 200 people outside Sproul Hall at a rally organized by Students for Fair Taxes on Thursday. The SFT wanted to call attention to the compromise agreement Congress made on Wednesday to approve the tax cut that will be instituted over the next 10 years. 

Student supporters carried signs that read “Bush is screwing my grandmother” and “A latte a day keeps Medicare away.” 

The major components of the proposal call for a tax cut for all individual tax payers, a doubling of the child tax credit and the repeal of the estate tax.  

Critics of the proposal say only the wealthiest Americans will benefit from the tax cuts, leaving the working and middle classes to pick up the pieces when social programs such as Social Security and Medicare need huge infusions of cash in coming years. 

The agreement is nonbinding, but the House of Representatives and the Senate will use it as a blueprint while hammering out the details before approving it as part of the $1.98 trillion budget for 2002. 

The tentative tax cut of $1.2 trillion is much lower than the $1.6 trillion Bush originally proposed. 

“Tax cuts are not free,” said Daniel McFadden, a UC professor and Nobel Laureate in Economics who spoke at the rally. “With this tax cut, we are condemning our children to massive taxation in the future and probably the destruction of programs like Social Security and Medicare.” 

McFadden, who has been researching the economic status of the elderly for two decades, said even if this were an equitable tax cut it would still be unhealthy for the economy. “This will end up creating substantial difficulty down the road for all economic classes,” he said. 

League of Women Voters of California Government Director Doris Fine agreed. Addressing the crowd, she said the LWV has been studying taxes for a long time and the tax cut is in conflict with the organization’s longtime tax stance. “We believe that this cut will mostly benefit the wealthy while it has disastrous effects on the environment, education and health care.” 

Robb McFadden, chair of the UC Berkeley College Republicans (no relation to Professor Daniel McFadden), said he disagreed with the gloomy predictions. He said the tax cut was across the board and would benefit the wealthy as well as the those in lower tax brackets. 

He said Bush was the only presidential candidate who offered solid solutions to the problems facing Social Security and Medicare. 

“President Bush has just appointed a commission to examine the privatization of Social Security and I think the commission will come back with some good ideas,” he said. “This tax cut is coming from a surplus and is simply an attempt to return money to the people who earned it.” 

Students for Fair Taxes and their supporters milled around the Sproul Hall steps in the afternoon sun while listening to speakers and enjoying the songs and skits.  

Claudine McLaughlin, a member of Students for Fair Taxes, said she had a hard time understanding how the American people could sit still for the tax cut. “There’s a false sense that we all can get rich,” she said. “People just don’t want to see the long-term effect of this tax cut.” 

Fine said she was a bit surprised at the lack of public demonstration against the proposed tax cut. “People should begin to think about the real effects and not what Bush is trying to sell the American people,” she said.