Monday, April 24, 2006

Checkbook Democracy: VP Cheney’s Tax Return Shows Katrina Tax Benefits for Non-Katrina Charitable Contributions

When I was a kid, my Sicilian grandfather used to joke that Republicans were people who couldn’t enjoy a meal unless they thought someone was hungry. And, with a Republican Vice–President like Dick Cheney, it’s no surprise many think Republicans are the epitome of greed. It’s one thing for a guy like Cheney to live on the “cush” for decades, camouflaging income from government contracts as legitimate labor. But, it’s entirely different to profit from another man’s misery, especially when you’re their elected leader. It appears Cheney did just that.

TaxProf Blog reports that Michael S. Kirsch, professor of law at Notre Dame, examined Cheney’s tax return. It appears the Republican VP was a “major beneficiary of the Hurricane Katrina tax relief act.” He claimed “$6.8 million of charitable deductions” or 77% of his adjusted gross income, well in excess of “50% limitation that would have applied absent the Katrina legislation.”

But, none of Cheney’s contributions went to “Katrina-related charities.” Although the legislation was hawked to the public as “as providing relief to Katrina victims,” it allowed the wealthy - the “haves and haves more…the elite,” otherwise called the Bush-Cheney base, to benefit from the Katrina tragedy without helping Katrina victims.

Cheney’s tax maneuvers bring new meaning to the term “gross income.”


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