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Schumer's Slippery 'Tax The Heck Out Of AIG Bonuses' Slope

By Noel Sheppard Associate Editor, NewsBusters.org

So how much sleep did you lose last night worrying about those awful AIGers getting bonuses with your bailout dollars?

I imagine that unlike most Americans on St. Patrick's Day, I spent the evening counting all the new taxes about to be imposed in the coming years rather than tossing and turning over a few hundred million dollars foolishly spent before Barry O'Bama was elected.

After all, they're talking about taxing carbon dioxide emissions, health care benefits, and reducing the deductibility of mortgage interest.

When I hear Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) calling totax the heck out of bonuses conceivably undeserving AIG employees got despite their company having received a massive bailout last year, I'm struck with an all encompassing terror over the precedent this would establish -- vis a vis "What's next to be taxed?" -- rather than a sense of divine retribution:

My colleagues and I are sending a letter to Mr. [AIG CEO Edward] Liddy informing him that he can go right ahead and tell the employees that are scheduled to get bonuses that they should voluntarily return them, because if they don't, we plan to virtually tax all of it. He should tell these employees if they don't give the money back, we'll put in place a new law that will allow us to tax these bonuses at a very high rate so that it's returned to its rightful owners, the taxpayers.

Excuse me, Senator: Is this St. Patrick's Day or Halloween?

We'll put in place a new law that will allow us to tax these bonuses at a very high rate?

Yikes!

I suggest people get past their anger over these bonuses and consider the kind of precedent that would be established if such legislation was actually enacted, and before tossing all this aside as good political rhetoric consider what Politico's Glenn Thrush reportedTuesday:

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and New York Sen. Charles Schumer are hastily drafting legislation that would impose steep taxes on AIG executive bonuses -- an approach unveiled by two New York House members yesterday. [...] "We stand ready to take the difficult, but necessary step of working to enact legislation that would allow the government to recoup these bonus payments, perhaps by imposing a steep tax-- as high as 91 percent--that will have the effect of recovering nearly all of the bonuses that have been paid out since AIG turned to taxpayers for help."

Further consider that Schumer's statements yesterday are almost guaranteed to be played over and over again on the air and cablewaves in the next 48 hours. As the public's anger concerning these bonuses is rightfully building, it will be very easy to garner support for such tax increases if the funds aren't returned.

With federal spending exploding, and tax receipts on the decline because of the recession, a Democrat-controlled government will be looking for more and more revenue sources in the months and years to come to fend off trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see.

As such, this kind of capricious tax attack on a small group of citizens should be what keeps people up at night for this could be opening the door for future confiscatory financial invasions most Americans probably haven't even dreamed of.

Of course, as always seems the case with this new Administration, the joke in the end is on us for Congress will likely spend more time talking about the $165 million in bonuses these faceless AIGers received than they did debating -- and, maybe more important, reading! -- the $787 billion stimulus bill.

Now that's entertainment!

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at NewsBustersNoel@gmail.com.