One Mann's Opinion





6/04/03

When will the everyday voter, the working stiffs that are the backbone of this country, realize that this Republican administration doesn't give a damn about them. When will they realize that this government is constantly lying and is only concerned with perpetuating its time in office. When will they realize that the federal government's financial, military and environmental policies will negatively impact this country for decades to come.

First we find out that this tax cut is total sham that is only designed to help out their fat cat supporters. Even Warren Buffett has come out against the cut. He publically stated that his secretary has a higher tax burden than he has and therefore he does not need or deserve a cut. It also turns out that the needest of families were
intentionally left out of the signed bill. The Minneapolis Star Tribune on 6/2 stated:

"
A new study by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, two scrupulously nonpartisan Washington think tanks, finds that 8.1 million people who do pay income taxes got left out of the tax cut. This includes nearly 2 million families who paid more than $1,000 each in taxes last year. They're out of luck because they don't fit into any of the categories for whom Congress carefully tailored the bill: investors with dividends or capital gains, parents with minor children, married couples with narrowly defined filing characteristics.

This news broke just a day after the White House admitted that another 6.4 million minimum-wage families were deliberately cut out of the tax cut at the last minute. It's true that they don't pay income taxes most years; their deductions offset the tax liability on their modest incomes. But they do pay billions of dollars in Social Security and Medicare taxes -- levies that now supply more than a third of all federal revenues and that are now underwriting deficits in the rest of the federal budget. The only reason these unlucky families miss out on tax relief is that the Republican leadership in Congress chose to focus on income taxes, which fall hardest on upper-income Americans, not on payroll taxes, which hit middle America the hardest."

It also appears that the timing of the cut is also purely political. There is zero regard for the impact caused by ballooning deficits as well as the funding of Social Security on future generations. Ed Yardeni, Prudential Financial Investment Stategist, claims:

"The President's Jobs and Growth Plan includes $350 billion in tax cuts and spending increases over the next 10 years with $61 billion and $149 billion scheduled to occur during the current and coming fiscal years, respectively. In other words, most of the impact is expected before the November 2004 election: 17% over the rest of this year, 43% next year, and 60% over this two-year period! It is a politically brilliant achievement for the President because it provides plenty of stimulus before the election. It also gives the President a great campaign issue: "Vote for me if you want your tax cuts extended." Democrats can be accused of favoring tax hikes if they refuse to extend the tax cuts."

Finally, this week the Republican dominated FCC raised the cap on the maximum share of the national audience one company can reach with its stations to 45 percent from 35. Again big contributers like Rupert  Murdoch will be able to amass more control of the media will driving up costs and limiting choices for the general public. Here is the NY Times take on the decision:

As consumer advocates deplored yesterday's changes to media ownership rules as a blow to democracy, investors bought up shares of the biggest media companies.

Both advocates and investors agree that the latest rule changes are likely to let media leviathans like the News Corporation and Viacom fortify their positions while increasing the odds against newcomers and small fry.

The changes mainly loosen restrictions on the ownership of local television stations. But even in the one area the radio industry where the Federal Communications Commission tightened the rules on media consolidation, the changes will have the unintended effect of making it more difficult for smaller rivals to challenge the dominance of the industry giant, Clear Channel Communications.

To curtail the swift consolidation of radio broadcasting since its deregulation in 1996, the commission set new limits on the maximum number of stations one company can own in certain cities and towns. The new rules will impede Clear Channel's future expansion. But at the same time, the commission let Clear Channel keep its clusters of stations that exceed the new caps, preventing its smaller competitors like Cumulus Media and Citadel Broadcasting from ever catching up.

Citadel had sought rules that would force it to sell some of its approximately 200 stations, in the hopes of forcing Clear Channel to shed some of its 1,200.

"Whether you call it revolution or evolution, the big companies now have the opportunity to be even bigger and stronger," said Blair Levin, a former top official for the commission who is now an analyst at the investment bank Legg Mason.

"Everyone in the business has to wake up tomorrow and ask, Do I want to be a buyer or a seller? In a relatively condensed time frame three or five years there will be a pretty large turnover in the way the map looks," Mr. Levin said.

Together with recent deals like News Corporation's proposed acquisition of the satellite broadcaster DirecTV, the changes may create opportunities and pressures for more mega-mergers.

In a little-noticed shift, the commission declined to reinstate a rule that blocked cable companies from owning local television stations.

For the first time, the cable giant Comcast could now merge with the Walt Disney Company, owner of ABC and some of its owned-and-operated broadcast television stations. AOL Time Warner, owner of Time Warner Cable, could buy NBC from General Electric. Both moves have come up for discussion by analysts and investment bankers as logical responses to match the new power of News Corporation, which will now combine studios, major broadcast and cable networks, and pay television distribution. Another investment banker fantasy: Viacom, owner of Paramount, CBS and MTV, might merge with the other satellite service, Echostar.


Well it's only one Mann's opinion!