New York

Who Exactly Is on Welfare?


The devil’s in the details, so this Saturday (March 13), a bunch of social-welfare advocates will be brainstorming activism in the Bush-Kerry race at the Battle for Social Welfare conference, all day at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. After William Greider‘s keynote, “What Is at Stake,” and City Council member Margarita LÌÒpez‘s speech “The Stakes for New York City,” there’ll be an open-mike session and then an afternoon of strategizing about what the organizers grimly call the “never-ending tax cuts” that threaten all sorts of programs aimed at the common good.

It might surprise many of them to know that Warren Buffett, the capitalist’s capitalist, probably would agree with them on some key issues. His annual letter to shareholders, normally a multiple-orgasm event for wannabe stockpickers and other bidness types, points out some juicy details on corporate welfare, where the real bums are. Social-welfare advocates: Check out the progressives’ take on Buffett’s letter, but read the 23-page missive yourselves. Unless you want to waste your time preaching the choir this campaign, bone up on some of Buffett’s startling details and talk them up. This should fry just about all American voters, except for the richest 1 percent of them: In 1952, corporate income taxes accounted for 32 percent of all federal tax receipts. In 2003, they accounted for 7.4 percent, the lowest percentage since 1934, except for one year in the Reagan regime.

“Even so,” Buffett notes, “tax breaks for corporations (and their investors, particularly large ones) were a major part of the Administration’s 2002 and 2003 initiatives. If class warfare is being waged in America, my class is clearly winning.”


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