The Badger Herald threw down the gauntlet last semester, and I happily picked it up. Conservative commentary in this country quite often gets away with egregious errors, blanket assumptions and slanderous attacks. Well, I’ll try to keep that to a minimum and use the best ammunition available: the truth.

It’s time to stop the deep, deep denial and face some facts. Our country “elected” an old-boys-network, fraternity jock as our president, and we are getting the government we deserve.

Let’s talk taxes. Ah, yes, taxes are a decidedly unsexy topic, especially for college students who don’t really pay attention to them. We are generally not in a high tax bracket. Yet, taxes are the one thing that is required of us, one of those certainties, as they say. Like death.

Specifically, let’s talk dividend taxes, and the enormous smoke screen Bush is proposing. The White House has proposed a $674 billion dollar tax cut. It will include a $3,000 loan available for people searching for work. It will also speed up the disastrous tax cuts that got passed in 2001. Those were bad enough, but worse is the proposed $364 billion dollar dividend tax cut.

What are dividends, and how are they taxed? Dividends are portions of future profit paid on stock that you purchase today. I buy $100 worth of stock, it pays out $20 a year (this is a highly speculative and fictional stock, do not ask me for tips on where to find a stock like this), and you pay a tax on it.

However, you pay taxes twice; once on the purchase, once on the earnings. This seems unfair, since we don’t approve of double-taxation in this country. So, who will be affected, and, more importantly, will it help?

This will directly affect 42 percent of the top 1 percent of Americans (these Americans make $1.1 million or more per diem). Few investors have dividends.

The Wall Street Journal says “Dividends entice investors into debt-laden, slow- or no-growth companies, more likely to cut their dividend, burning investors worse than conflicted research analysts. Run away. They are wearing a scarlet dollar sign. You want yield? Buy a bond.”

So you probably don’t have any and nor do your parents. Interestingly enough, Bush and Cheney do. They will save a combined $370,000 in taxes if this package is passed. One would be hardly surprised to discover that those who benefit the most have deep ties to the White House and the Republican Party. This is a payoff, plain and simple.

When did paying taxes become unpatriotic? Why is it that the party that promotes huge military budgets and champions the American dream of entrepreneurship and success shies away from giving back to the very system that promotes it? When did giving back to your country become such a terrible burden?

Republicans want our government out of the lives of ordinary Americans. That has been a bedrock principle of the Republican Party for years. The Bush administration has created the largest bureaucracy since the New Deal (the Office of Homeland Security) and wants to fight a war. How will they pay for this? They do not detect the supremely irrational contradiction in terms that cutting taxes and waging war represents.

Nobody likes paying taxes. That’s why Republicans can stand behind a tax cut that would possibly prove disastrous for the American economy. It looks as if they are creating jobs or helping our struggling economy, when in fact little to no recovery will be had by this proposal. It’s like being against kitten killing.

One would think the Republican Party would be against kitten killing as well, except that the leader of the Senate, Sen. Bill Frist M.D., is all for kitten killing. He said so himself.

When he was conducting research for his revolutionary heart- and lung-transplant procedure, he would routinely go to the Humane Society, take home a kitten and befriend it for a few days, then cut it open and tinker with its organs. This has nothing to do with Bush and the economy; it merely points out that just when you think things could not get any worse, they do.

I’m not saying eliminating a redundant tax that affects a small portion of Americans is a horrible idea. However, it is entirely disingenuous to act as if this is a boon to the American economy and a plus for the average taxpayer. President Bush would have us think that by giving back more money to the rich few, they’ll invest more and stimulate the economy for the majority of Americans. This tactic was used by Reagan, but to no avail.

There is a reason it’s called trickle-down economics. It sure sounds like someone is pissing on us.

Rob Deters ([email protected]) is a first year law student.