Desperate billionaires finally getting the help they need

first_imgOh, wait, that’s exactly what’s happening!Trump understands, for example, that health insurance isn’t all that important for the riffraff. So he and the Senate GOP have again targeted Obamacare, this time by trying to repeal the insurance mandate.The Congressional Budget Office says this will result in 13 million fewer people having health insurance.But what’s the big deal?The United States already has an infant mortality rate twice that of Austria and South Korea.American women are already five times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as women in Britain.So who’ll notice if things get a bit worse? Categories: Editorial, OpinionIt is so hard to be a billionaire these days!A new yacht can cost $300 million. And you wouldn’t believe what a pastry chef earns — and if you hire just one, to work weekdays, how can you possibly survive on weekends?The investment income on, say, a $4 billion fortune is a mere $1 million a day, which makes it tough to scrounge by with today’s rising prices.Why, some wealthy folks don’t even have a home in the Caribbean and on vacation are stuck brooding in hotel suites: They’re practically homeless!Fortunately, President Donald Trump and the Republicans are coming along with some desperately needed tax relief for billionaires.Thank God for this lifeline to struggling tycoons.And it’s carefully crafted to focus the benefits on the truly deserving — the affluent who earn their tax breaks with savvy investments in politicians. Perhaps that sounds harsh. But the blunt reality is that we risk soul-sucking dependency if we’re always setting kids’ broken arms.Maybe that’s why congressional Republicans haven’t bothered to renew funding for CHIP, the child health insurance program serving almost 9 million American kids.Ditto for the maternal and home visiting programs that are the gold standard for breaking cycles of poverty and that also haven’t been renewed.We mustn’t coddle American toddlers.Hey, if American infants really want health care, they’ll pick themselves up by their bootee straps and Uber over to an emergency room.Congressional Republicans understand that we can’t do everything for everybody. We have to make hard choices.Congress understands that kids are resilient and can look after themselves, so we must focus on the most urgent needs, such as those of hand-to-mouth billionaires. For example, eliminating the estate tax would help the roughly 5,500 Americans who now owe this tax each year, one-fifth of 1 percent of all Americans who die annually.Ending the tax would help upstanding people like the Trumps who owe their financial success to brilliant life choices, such as picking the uterus in which they were conceived.Now it’s fair to complain that the tax plan overall doesn’t give needy billionaires quite as much as they deserve.For example, the top 1 percent receive only a bit more than 25 percent of the total tax cuts in the Senate bill, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.Really? Only 25 times their share of the population?After all those dreary $5,000-a-plate dinners supporting politicians?If politicians had any guts, they’d just slash services for low-income families so as to finance tax breaks for billionaires.center_img In fairness, Congress has historically understood this mission.The tax code subsidizes moguls with private jets while the carried interest tax break gives a huge tax discount to striving private equity zillionaires.Meanwhile, a $13 billion annual subsidy for corporate meals and entertainment gives ditch diggers the satisfaction of buying Champagne for financiers.Our political leaders are so understanding because we appear to have the wealthiest Congress we’ve ever had, with a majority of members now millionaires, so they understand the importance of cutting health for the poor to show support for the crème de la crème.Granted, the GOP tax plan will add to the deficit, forcing additional borrowing.But if the tax cut passes, automatic “pay as you go” rules may helpfully cut $25 billion from Medicare spending next year, thus saving money on elderly people who are practically dead anyway.If poor kids have to suffer, we may as well make poor seniors suffer as well. That’s called a balanced policy. More broadly, you have to look at the reason for deficits. Yes, it’s problematic to borrow to pay for, say, higher education or cancer screenings.But what’s the problem with borrowing $1.5 trillion to invest in urgent tax relief for billionaires?Anyway, at some point down the road we’ll find a way to pay back the debt by cutting a wasteful program for runny-nose kids who aren’t smart enough to hire lobbyists.There must be some kids’ program that still isn’t on the chopping block.The tax bill underscores a political truth: There’s nothing wrong with redistribution when it’s done right.Nicholas Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censuslast_img read more

Saudi imposes 24-hour virus curfew in holy cities

first_imgLast month, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round umrah pilgrimage over fears of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Islam’s holiest cities.Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s hajj.Last year, some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world to take part in the hajj, which all Muslims must perform at least once in their lives if able.The Arab world’s biggest economy has also closed down cinemas, malls, restaurants and halted flights as it steps up efforts to contain the virus.King Salman has warned of a “more difficult” fight ahead against the virus, as the kingdom faces the economic double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices. The cities were earlier under a 15-hour daily curfew.Authorities have already sealed off Mecca and Medina along with Riyadh and Jeddah, barring people from entering and exiting the cities as well as prohibiting movement between all provinces.Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf, is scrambling to limit the spread of the disease at home. On Thursday the health ministry said the deaths from the illness had risen to 21 while 1,885 infections were reported. Saudi Arabia on Thursday extended curfew restrictions on Islam’s two holiest cities to 24 hours to stem the spread of coronavirus as the number of deaths from the disease rose to 21.The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the hajj which is due to take place at the end of July, after authorities this week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.”Full 24-hour curfew in Mecca and Medina starting from today until further notice,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing an interior ministry source.center_img Topics :last_img read more