Appalled over ‘pork’ in fiscal cliff bill

Posted

To the editor,

I am livid, disgusted and appalled! And, I am far from alone!

In a last-ditched effort to avoid the fiscal cliff, both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House passed legislation to stave off what surely would have been disastrous, both at home and globally. In the process, and most likely to garner affirmative votes, legislators allowed at least $67.9 billion (per Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation) – that’s billion with a “B” – for special interests to be added on. Pure pork!

Dozens of tax breaks for business and industry including about $70 million for a cost-recovery program for “motorsports entertainment complexes”; i.e. racetracks! Tax breaks for Hollywood producers who shoot movies and TV shows in the US at a cost of about $430 million over the next 2 years. Legislation allowing US corporations to defer taxes on some income earned from their overseas subsidiaries costing the US Treasury $10.8 billion over this year and next. An agreement to subsidize the domestic production of rum by sending federal tax revenue collected from rum production in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands back to them. A $15 million dollar-a-year tax break to the asparagus industry to compensate for a cheaper product from South America. A tax break for people who buy electric scooters, Segways, and such! And, the list goes on . . .

I understand that the purpose of the deal was to prevent steep spending cuts and tax increases, which basically impact the middle class, from automatically taking effect in 2013. However, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Member of Congress and Chair of the National Democratic Committee, who I happen to respect, is remiss when she categorizes this “deal” as “a big gift-wrapped present of certainty to the middle class.”

The one item both Democrats and Republicans ignored – whether purposefully or not – was the 2% Social Security tax, enacted by President Obama in 2010 and extended through 2012. By quietly allowing this payroll tax “holiday” to expire, all households – especially middle class households - will suffer a 2% tax increase! So, once again, the middle class – who were promised “no tax increase” and are encouraged and expected to spend their hard-earned money to stimulate the economy – are being hit where it hurts!

One interesting observation; apparently no one outside of the Beltway was aware of all the unnecessary, wasteful and obscenely expensive pork attached to this bill until after the deed was done. Washington politics as usual! No wonder Americans have little faith or confidence in their elected officials.

I cannot sit back and condone what is happening and not speak my mind. As I said, I am certainly not alone. Tax breaks for industries raking in enormous profits, pork projects bordering the ludicrous, subsidies for not producing, millions of dollars in foreign aid to countries who revile us in return, costly and endless wars – these are abhorrent to most taxpayers.

I am aware that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are costly. They also advantage those American citizens who are the neediest. I would urge great care when considering “entitlement” reform. American citizens – your voting constituents – would prefer taking care of our own first.

At the same time, I urge Congress to revisit this issue and reinstate the 2% reduction in the Social Security tax.

Wendy S. Caputo

Riverside

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.