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Correspondence with Sen. Pat Toomey

VICKI SMEDLEY

Jersey Shore

Recently, I wrote a letter to Sen. Pat Toomey stating my concerns about the vote on the Trump tax cut bill. I got this form letter reply and I decided to answer it point by point.

I answered his points in the body of his letter so I hope you understand who is saying what. I think this is important to show how little respect Sen. Toomey has for the people he is supposed to be representing. Instead of representing us, he is cow-towing to his biggest donors.

Dear Sen. Toomey,

I received your response letter today and I wanted to take the time to respond to your statements about the Tax bill.

You said: “Tax reform can help to create sustained economic growth for all Americans. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has projected the nation’s gross domestic product to increase by a meager 1.9 percent each year over the next decade. I refuse to accept sub-two percent growth as the new normal knowing that, in the sixty years before the Obama administration, economic growth averaged 3.4 percent per year.”

My response: Did you forget about the crash of 2008, before Obama took office? And why would you not accept less than a 2 percent economic growth rate? After the debacle of the 2008 banking caused crash, I think 1.9 percent is good. It is only greed that makes us always want more, more. And this tax break will do exactly that … for the wealthiest people in America.

You said: “On Nov. 16, 2017, the House passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) by a vote of 227-205. Later that same day, I joined a majority of my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee in passing our own version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Passage out of committee was a big step towards enacting pro-growth tax reform, and I look forward to moving this bill to the Senate floor soon.” My response: Pro-growth means more money for the top, little to nothing for the rest.

You said: “For example, the bill lowers our country’s statutory corporate tax rate of 35 percent, which is the highest in the developed world and far above the average rate of our economic competitors (less than 23 percent). Without a significant reduction in business tax rates, the U.S. will never be the best place to invest and create jobs.”

My response: You say America will never be the best place to invest. We already are the best place to invest. Look at our stock market today. It just keeps going up. I remember not too many years ago all the media excitement as the Dow was approaching the 10,000 mark. Now I believe we are over 23,000 and that’s not enough for you? Will you not be satisfied until we have no middle class? Only the very rich and poor worker drones? And to pay for this give away to the rich you are planning to raid Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, programs the President promised on the campaign trail that he would not touch. So Congress will do it for him.

You said: “And with the increasing international mobility of capital, a significant burden of business taxes now falls on workers, undermining wage growth.”

I replied: And, is that because the businesses are passing these costs on to the buyers, rather than chalk it up to the costs of doing business? It is only the greed of the business community, and your own ideas that less than 2 percent growth is not enough that drives this constant push for more growth … all for the corporate purses.

I recently watched Michael Moore’s movie, “Where to invade next?” In it, he invades many countries around the world to take possession of their “ideas” to take back to America. In many of those countries — Italy, Germany, Finland to name a few — the corporate executives talked about the benefits their workers receive. In every case, the CEOs were glad to be able to help their workers attain a better life because they realize the benefits of happy, healthy, satisfied workers on the company’s bottom line. The owners are willing to hoard less because they want happy workers showing up at the workplace. This seems to make a lot of sense to me. You, and all the people in the upper tax brackets, need to learn to share a little better. If you did, I think we would all get along a little better. It is something I learned in kindergarten.

You said: “I am confident pro-growth tax reform will deliver hardworking families across Pennsylvania a direct pay raise through cutting individual tax rates across the board as well as doubling both the standard deduction and the child tax credit. Reforms to the business side of the tax code that will make us globally competitive will result in an indirect pay raise as more jobs and new businesses are created, resulting in an upward pressure on wages.”

I responded: I am NOT confident that this “pro-growth” tax reform will deliver anything but misery to the hardworking families across Pennsylvania. Does it not concern you that the tax credits proposed for the middle and lower class are only temporary, and that in 10 years all the rest of us not so well-off folks will get astronomical tax increases? Meanwhile all of the tax decreases for the rich will be permanent.

And how about our students? This tax bill will take away their deductions for their loan payments, which already have a higher percentage rate than any other kind of loan. My granddaughter just got her physician assistant degree. It took her five years and she owes almost $240,000. She will be paying $1,200 a month on her loan for the next 20 years or more, making it difficult for her to purchase the things that our generation did, purchases that grow the economy and provide good jobs for people.

And what about our graduate students? What this tax bill does to them is unconscionable! These students exist on a small stipend while they do research and teach classes. In return, they have a deferred tuition option, being able to take their own classes for free. Now this tax plan will make them pay a tax on this stipend AND on the value of their tuition deferment, costing them thousands of dollars more in tax liabilities. Grad students are a necessary part of our university systems. What you are doing here is going to reduce the numbers of grad students because they can no longer afford to be in school.

There is a link between this tax plan and patriarchy. This value system, that there’s this sort of hierarchy of human value, that some groups of people are just worth more than others because they have more money and more power, is part of a system of racial hierarchy, patriarchy, white supremacy. And we are seeing it. We are seeing it play out very much where women, people of color and the next generation are going to suffer from this tax plan.

And, it greatly concerns me that this tax bill was written entirely by the Republicans. There was NO … zero, input from the other side of the aisle. And then Trump has the gall to stage an empty chair message when in reality Schumer and Pelosi refuse to be there precisely because it would have made it look like the tax bill had their input. There was no input to be had by showing up for the final dog and pony show after the fact of the bill. I applaud them.

I strongly oppose the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This tax bill is a scam that will give massive cuts to the wealthy, paid for by leaving tens of thousands of people in Pennsylvania uninsured, raising premiums, and raising taxes on middle-class families.

This tax bill won’t help middle class families get ahead. Every single provision intended to help the middle-class expires, but the corporate tax cuts are forever. Even worse, the CBO estimates that health insurance premiums will increase 10 percent more per year than they would without this bill and we know 13 million more people will be uninsured.

You said: “I value your input and I will keep your concerns in mind as I continue working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to fix our broken tax system and advance policies that will help grow our economy and create jobs.”

I replied: And you don’t need to tell me at the end of every response from you that you value my input and will keep my concerns in mind because I know you will do neither. I have been writing and calling your office since the inauguration but if you had my concerns in your mind it has not once translated into a vote that shared my values or concerns. And I will continue to contact you in the future, I am sure.

You said: “Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

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