Reading about the historic Johnstown flood of 1889 brought to mind the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy—and why the president must rid us of them now as the nation starts a new season, thankful yet sober.
The 1 percent of that era were the robber barons of the Gilded Age, with great steel, coke, and railroad wealth concentrated in Pittsburgh. They started an exclusive club, several industrial barons, including Andrew Carnegie, devoted to fishing and hunting, by the South Fork Dam. The dam the club constructed nearby overlooked several towns and villages in the rugged incline and valley below. On a terribly rainy spring day when the dam broke, an entire lake drowned those towns in torrents of water, debris and floating trees, and houses. Because the fancy club's earthen dam was shoddy, roughly 2,200 people died in the worst natural disaster to befall an American town up to that point.
The robber barons' summer recreation endangered the whole community's safety and livelihood. People talked about the dam breaking all the time before it did. And that's what I'm talking about. For too long we have lived under the yoke, under the treacherous dam of putting really rich people first. To recover from our own economic calamity, those tax cuts must be scrubbed, along with everything with George W. Bush's name on it. Let it not be forgot, he's the guy that took peace and prosperity and turned it all into desert dust and debt.
Taking that turkey off the table would not upset most wealthy people, who were content to live under the Clinton tax code. That is what President Obama wishes to do, but he has been thwarted once before by stubborn Republicans. This time around, he seems to have more mettle about getting rid of the significant tax break the rich have received, just for being rich. It will also bring substantial revenue badly needed by the Treasury. I grant you, there are hedge fund managers out there who see it differently than you and me.
As we mark the autumn harvest in a collective ritual that brings comfort, let's resolve to rid ourselves of the most divisive policy remaining from the Bush years. A policy that is, in the end, unfair and un-American. And life will start looking up.