Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear Susan Collins DBA Reasonable Republican

It is all about the tax code.

Unless the fight over tax breaks removes income taxes for those who earn less than $35,000, or adds grants for education and home windmills, please stop wrangling over them. Unreasonable Republicans, like Eric Kantor who persist in using the incorrect form of the word when describing "Democrat leaders," are wrong and and have misjudged what will help most of us.

When will the Unreasonable Republicans stop pretending that a few hundred dollars in the pocket of Edgecomb's Sheepscot River Pottery is going to make a difference to how many people they hire this summer, or how many people stop to buy Maine-made ceramics. The majority of Americans do not want the President's stimulus package held hostage by those who would do the bidding of the obscenely wealthy, one half of one percent of the population. As for the lip service given to supporting the middle class and small business, the best "job generator" will be universal health care.

(Images from the Americans Who Tell The Truth project by Maine artist Robert Shetterly)

Please return to the reason and confidence embodied by Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower and Margaret Chase Smith. Rather than continuing the craven taxation practices of the last 30 years, now proven not only ineffective but damaging to the economy, please adjust the return appropriately. Current tax policy made so much cash available to the gilded class that investment counselors had trouble finding diversified, smart, safe havens, thus currying the growth of idiotic (credit default swaps) and downright immoral (Madoff's Ponzi scheme) investments. Blaming those who bought houses they could not afford without blaming those who made cash for those loans available fails to address the whole problem.

The Unreasonable Republicans, John Cornyn, Rush Limbaugh Mitch McConnel, Eric Kantor and John Boehner to name a few, have been acting badly in the last couple days. Can the reasonable Republicans, like yourself, step up and use some moral authority to stop them?

Your new seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee gives you exponentially increased gravitas and makes your reasonableness all the more critical. Word is your influence helped three Republican colleagues on the Appropriations Committee decide to support the spending portion of the stimulus bill. For that I am grateful. The federal government must act on behalf of the people to save our economy from ruin.

I ask you to please consider excising from the Stimulus Package the tax cuts so popular with the Unreasonable Republicans and some of your constituents--though not a plurality. Please read smart economists like Kevin Phillips and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman who make a darned good case against tax cuts. Rather, they indict the relative tax freedom of the obscenely wealthy as the cause of many of our current economic ills.

Consider my situation. When my mother died in 1998, half of her two million dollar estate went to the federal government, and a goodly portion to two states, Maine and Texas where she lived. My sister and I split the remainder, bought modest homes and invested the what was leftover. Those investments have shrunk to piddling suggestions of their former selves. Both of us work in public service. She as a Marine Patrol Officer; I am a teacher who took a few years away from teaching to raise my young son and attend grad school.

Now, as I attempt to return to full time teaching (I will stifle a rant about how American public policy fails to encourage women to take time off to raise their children), I do not regret the taxes I have paid in 35 years of employment, or even the onerous Estate Tax. I resent that our infrastructure is not better, our schools are not more vigorous, our public transportation is a joke, in part because, as Phillips points out, while the incomes of the wealthiest families in America have grown exponentially, their tax rate has shrunk to that of my neighbor the home builder. How is it that the Mellons and the Morgans pay the same rate as a contractor in Midcoast Maine?

Senator Collins, you have minions who can do this math better than I. However, I know in my head and heart that one half of one percent of the population should not be protected at the expense of the rest of us.

We must return to the path of that Reasonable Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower. His highest tax rate was 91 percent. Reagan was wrong. This grinding, as yet far from finished debacle proves it. Progressive tax reform is essential to this country's recovery; it is critical to our identity.


Alna Dem said...

Wow... think she'll listen? It wouldn't surprise me if our senators split again, as per the bailout bill, with Snowe voting up and Collins down.

Meanwhile, did you see Maine ranks 48th out of 50 in what we'll get out of the stimulus? Aren't you glad we returned those powerhouse ladies to DC?

Andrea said...