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As Long as We Remember...

July 8, 2002

Who's Voting For You?

Mike Kuster

Congressmen Roscoe Bartlett and Bob Ehrlich continue to baffle logic and vote against the interests of their constituents. Each time this writer reviews recent votes, it become evident that something is amiss.

Many of you will be happy to know (as was I) that the House of Representatives passed HR-4931. This bill makes retirement-saving tax incentives permanent. To be brief, annual IRA contribution caps increase to $5,000.00 by 2008 and 401(k) contributions increase to $15,000 annually by 2006.

Congressmen Bartlett, Ehrlich and every other Maryland congressional representative voted in favor of this bill. Good for them! They're voting to help those of us trying to save for retirement!

Here comes the rub!

Our congressman and gubernatorial-wannabe must not read the paper or watch the news. They must be unaware of the recent high-profile corporations cheating, lying, and stealing from the American public. The names Adelphia Communications, WorldCom, Kmart, Arthur Andersen and, of course, Enron must mean nothing to them. Either that, or these congressmen are working for them!

Congressman Bartlett, along with Governor-hopeful Ehrlich, rejected a bill to make the tax incentives permanent, but also tax certain corporate executives. Half of this bill focuses on companies relocating to tax-free countries such as Bermuda. Executives of such companies would be taxed on the accrued value of their stock options. The second half of the bill targets executives receiving "Golden Parachutes" while leaving shareholders, employees, and the company in bankruptcy proceedings. Said executives would be subject to an excise tax on the severance package.

Apparently, Congressmen Bartlett and Ehrlich feel that Enron executives deserve hundreds of millions of dollars for their work in screwing countless hard-working Americans!

If these conservative representatives of the people want to reduce government spending and reliance on government welfare programs, they had better start looking at ways to discourage the disgusting and inhumane behavior of America's corporate executives!

We cannot expect our nation to survive under current conditions in corporate America. With tens of thousands of people losing their jobs and retirement savings, the federal government will be spending billions on welfare. Under the Bartlett-Ehrlich voting pattern, that welfare will be in the form of corporate welfare.

In recent months, we have seen thousands and thousands of hard-working people lose their jobs. At the same time, the executives of their companies walk away with more than enough money to pay every employee's salary through retirement.

That's right. If you make $30,000 per year, you will not have made even a million dollars in your career. The median salary in the United States is $22,199.

So, how many middle of the road employees could have been saved with the Golden Parachutes from Enron? Well, 144 executives received $310 million in salaries and bonuses and $475 million in stock awards before the company filed for bankruptcy. That would pay the annual salaries of 35,361 median salaried employees! It would have paid for 1178 of those employees to work for 30 years!

How many people would still have jobs if the Golden Parachutes of all of the recent corrupt corporate executives were added up?

How much will these get rich-and-run con men cost America?

Are we going to continue to let Roscoe Bartlett continue to lay the heaviest burden of taxation on the middle-class?

Shouldn't those getting rich off of the destruction of middle-class lives be paying America for the cost to society?

How much is too much? Does anyone need to make hundreds of millions of dollars each year? In the past 15 years, the salaries of CEO's have risen 866%! During that same time period, the salaries of employees have risen 63%!

Should anyone receive a golden parachute that dwarfs the monies needed to save the careers of those who lose their jobs?

We need someone voting for average Americans in Congress! Roscoe Bartlett is not doing so.

We need someone working for average Marylanders in the Governor's Mansion! Bob Ehrlich is not doing so!

If companies seek tax-refuge off shore, the taxes of average Americans will be raised. If golden parachutes are not taxed excessively, the corrupt CEO's of America will lay more taxes on the middle-class (after laying them all off).

Thomas Jefferson worried that money and greed would destroy the country he and his co-conspirators worked so hard to create. With men like Roscoe Bartlett and Bob Ehrlich in power, it appears Jefferson's worries were well founded.

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