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Republicans found themselves in a tight spot yesterday as the House voted to slap a 90 percent tax
on those outrageous bonuses paid out by AIG and other bailed-out firms. It was a clever trap laid by Democrats. Vote no and you're on the side of greed and decadence and you incur the popular wrath. Vote yes and you're on record in favor of imposing a tax rate of 90 percent. What's a smart Republican to do?
It was hard to know. They were switching votes from no to yes in droves as the measure passed 328-93. It took a two-thirds majority because Democrats brought it up under a suspension of rules. Republicans could have killed it with a united front. That's apparently what Democrats wanted to happen so they could attack Republicans as the party of corporate greed and excess. They'll settle for slapping them around in the next elections for voting to raise taxes. It's a phony issue, of course. No one expects anyone to ever have to pay this tax. It's almost certainly unconstitutional.
Of Tennessee's delegation
only Marsha Blackburn voted no. Lincoln Davis missed the vote to attend a funeral but said he would have voted for the tax:
"I don't think AIG executives need another fine Italian suit. This is why I voted against the bank bailout. I did not want to put money into the very companies that created this mess, and now AIG has shown again the utter contempt they hold for this country and its people."
Blackburn was forced to put out a statement saying essentially that taxing the crap out of rich Wall Street assholes is "un-American." Sorry, what?
Here's her statement:
"I share my constituent's outrage over the AIG situation. It seems we are throwing good taxpayer money after bad to save a company that may be unsalvageable. My opposition to continued federal bailouts has been, in part, because they don't contain the kind of safeguards that could have prevented this. Indeed, we have learned after the fact that the White House stripped those safeguards from the latest Stimulus Bill."
"There is no question that the whole situation is repulsive. That said, this bill sets a big government precedent that is deeply troubling. The idea that Congress can express its displeasure at an individual taxpayer by micro-targeting them and taxing them into oblivion is unacceptable, if not un-American, in my eyes. Especially since most Democrats in Congress voted to allow the bonuses to continue."
"Our economy is in real trouble. I spent this morning hearing from small business owners from Tennessee and around the country who were sharing their recommendations to get the economy going again. Instead of focusing on those, House leaders engaged in a week long distraction over a crisis largely of their own creation. Our President and his partisans in Congress had full knowledge of these bonuses before they were paid out, and behind closed doors made the conscious decision not to stop them. Once again the rhetoric of this Administration; the promises of transparency, accountability, and responsible government fade like so many lines on a teleprompter before the harsh light of reality."