Bush Tax Cuts Provided Greatest Benefits for Wealthy

Another totally unsurprising report, this time from the Congressional Budget Office on who benefits from Bush’s tax cuts. The big winner is those making over one million dollars per year. From the New York Times:

Families earning more than $1 million a year saw their federal tax rates drop more sharply than any group in the country as a result of President Bush’s tax cuts, according to a new Congressional study.

The study, by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, also shows that tax rates for middle-income earners edged up in 2004, the most recent year for which data was available, while rates for people at the very top continued to decline.

Based on an exhaustive analysis of tax records and census data, the study reinforced the sense that while Mr. Bush’s tax cuts reduced rates for people at every income level, they offered the biggest benefits by far to people at the very top — especially the top 1 percent of income earners…

Economists and tax analysts have long known that the biggest dollar value of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts goes to people at the very top income levels. One reason is that two of his signature measures, tax cuts on investment income and a steady reduction of estate taxes, overwhelmingly benefit the wealthiest households…

Tax cuts were much deeper, and affected far more money, for families in the highest income categories. Households in the top 1 percent of earnings, which had an average income of $1.25 million, saw their effective individual tax rates drop to 19.6 percent in 2004 from 24.2 percent in 2000. The rate cut was twice as deep as for middle-income families, and it translated to an average tax cut of almost $58,000.

Stephen Hawking Plans Trip Into Space

Stephen Hawking, who had a fictitious space trip by appearing on Star Trek: The Next Generation (pictures in previous post here), is now planning a real trip into space. The Telegraph reports:

Prof Stephen Hawking is planning a space flight. The world’s best-known scientist, who is 65 today, told The Daily Telegraph: “This year I’m planning a zero-gravity flight and to go into space in 2009.”

A zero gravity flight is what astronauts call the “vomit comet”, in which an aeroplane flies in such a way that people inside are temporarily weightless.

Prof Hawking’s next step towards the cosmos then depends on the Virgin Galactic space tourism plans
of Sir Richard Branson, whose SpaceShipTwo will carry six passengers into a low Earth orbit from 2008.

The craft will be launched at 50,000ft from a mothership and soar into space at around 360,000ft, reaching a speed of 2,500mph — more than three times the speed of sound.

At present, a flight costs about £100,000 but Sir Richard will sponsor Prof Hawking’s mission.

Another Form of Stem Cells Under Investigation

There’s hope for yet another alternative to embryonic stem cell research in light of the reports that amniotic stem cells may also have the ability to develop into a variety of cells which provide potential cures for many diseases. Some are claiming that this resolves the political controversy over embryonic stem cell research, but the underlying argument remains that religion should be kept out of science. Scientists should be free to investigate both embryoinic and amniotic stem cells free from constraints imposed by the religious right. It is far too early to determine whether amniotic stem cells will work as well as embryonic stem cells in all situations:

Atala and other scientists emphasized that they don’t believe the cells will make embryonic stem cells irrelevant.

“There’s not going to be one shoe that fits all,” said Robert Lanza, scientific director at Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass. “We’re going to have to see which ones are most useful for which clinical conditions.”

George Daley, a Harvard stem cell researcher, echoed that sentiment. “They are not a replacement for embryonic stem cells,” he said.