A 1-2 punch aimed at poor and middle class

To the editor:

The tax bill, which is now undergoing reconciliation between the House and Senate versions, is a bad bill for everyone except the 1 percent for many reasons (see Lee Keet’s recent commentary), and this is widely understood by the American public. It has an average approval rating of just 28 to 30 percent, according to recent polls.

The Republicans are struggling to keep the deficit increase below their self-imposed $1.5 trillion limit and resorting to magical thinking and fuzzy math to achieve this illusion. Weird that deficits don’t seem to matter anymore when during the Obama administration they were willing to shut down the government and put the full faith and credit of the United States in jeopardy to rein in the deficit.

Some are speculating that deficits will start to matter again when it is spending at issue and not tax giveaways. Speculate no more! Last week House Speaker Paul Ryan gleefully announced that “we’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.” These sentiments have been echoed by other congressional Republicans, and despite his repeated campaign promises not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security, President Trump is said to be warming to the idea.

This is nothing new; it goes back to the Reagan era. It’s called “starve the beast.” First, you enact massive tax cuts (weighted towards the wealthy on the “trickle-down” theory), and then (shock! horror!) the deficit increases, and you have to cut spending to prevent an unsustainable deficit. This doctrine is promoted by the anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and is widely discredited by economists.

These programs are called entitlements for a reason. We are entitled to them because we have paid for them through income tax and Social Security taxes. Any move to reduce entitlements is, in economic terms, equivalent to a massive tax increase on lower- and middle-income Americans.

In moral terms, it’s equivalent to THEFT!

Please call Congresswoman Stefanik to urge her to vote against this bill.


Alan Brown

Saranac Lake