Now That's Rich
By Al Kamen
Monday, July 26, 2004; Page A17
There's always been confusion about how you determine who's rich, middle class or poor. There's rich and super-rich. There's lower, middle and upper middle class. There's working class, working poor and poor.
Finally, President Bush weighed in on Tuesday to clarify things with a broad, new definition. Speaking to a campaign crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bush warned that John F. Kerry was going to blather endlessly about how he was only going to soak the rich to pay for trillions of dollars of new spending.
"In the campaign, you'll hear, we're only going to tax the rich," Bush said. "That's what you'll hear. Now, this from a fellow who has promised about $2 trillion of new spending thus far. And only taxing the rich, first of all, creates a huge tax gap, which means buyer beware.
"You see, if you can't raise enough by taxing the rich, guess who gets to pay next?" Bush asked. "Yes, the not-rich. That's all of us."
So it turns out that Bush, unlike your typical grandsons of senators, sons of presidents and graduates of fancy prep schools, Yale and Harvard business school, is just another "not rich" guy, a regular working stiff. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average annual wage for the Cedar Rapids area is $34,600. So that crowd was clearly "not rich."
But who else are the "not rich"? Well, Bush last year reported an income of only $822,000, and his assets were worth as much as $19 million. That includes his 1,583-acre ranch in Crawford, Tex.
Clearly not rich.
But Bush didn't define the minimum wage and assets needed to be considered rich. Would Vice President Cheney be in that class? Cheney reported income of almost $1.3 million and had assets in 2002 worth between $19.1 million and $86.4 million. Surely close, but not quite there.
These class divisions are, by definition, subjective and arbitrary. So let's set the standard: Rich means a yearly income of at least $2 million, assets of more than $100 million and ranches larger than 2,000 acres. Everyone else is "not rich."
That would mean that "fellow," Sen. Kerry, would be trying to raise those trillions from a relative handful of people, including his own wife. Absolutely impossible. So all of us "not rich" better beware, we're gonna get hammered if Kerry wins.
He Read It in the Newspaper
A story's been floating around for a long time that President Bill Clinton rejected an offer from the pro-terrorist Sudanese government to turn over Osama bin Laden in 1996. Clinton, in a February 2002 speech to the Long Island Association, explained that "the United States did not accept a Sudanese offer and take Bin Ladin because there was no indictment," according to a footnote in the Sept. 11 commission report.
"But the president told us that he had 'misspoken,' " the report said, "and was, wrongly, recounting a number of press stories he had read. After reviewing this matter in preparation for his Commission meeting, President Clinton told us that Sudan never offered to turn Bin Ladin over to the United States."
So, here's how it works: Bush has been known to brag that he doesn't read the newspapers. But Clinton does and, worse yet, actually believes what he reads!
Guess we better start checking this stuff.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
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