Monday, December 18, 2006

HoCo's Very Own Bush Style Tax Cut for the Rich

I am extremely disappointed that a highly regressive “senior” tax cut was enacted by the previous County Council and Executive at a time when the County faces an expected half-billion dollar deficit. While I encourage legislation to meet the unmet needs of our County’s senior citizens, this tax cut will do little to meet those unmet needs. In fact, those seniors who are in the greatest need of financial assistance receive nothing from this tax cut but a bigger tax bill or a reduction in services. On the other hand, this tax cut will result in a transfer of wealth from our poor and middle class families to our wealthiest seniors and the beneficiaries of their estates. I have come to expect this type of fiscally irresponsible malarkey from the Bush Administration, but our local Howard County Government? What’s next: an invasion of Carroll County?

In addition to being fiscally irresponsible, this tax cut is unfair. This tax cut will not help those seniors who need it the most: those seniors who are not fortunate enough to own their own homes. In fact, the tax cut might actually harm those seniors, since there will now be less money to fund those programs that would actually help them. Meanwhile, the more expensive the home owned by a senior citizen, the more money they will receive. That’s right, the richer you are, they more money we are giving you! Karl Rove would be so proud! Karl Marx: not so much.

This tax cut is also unfair to all those other members of our community with unmet needs. There are plenty of other people in Howard County whose needs are going unmet. If you need an example, I would take a close look into the plight of families whose children with developmental disabilities are approaching adulthood.

Unfortunately, the $75,000 a year income cap does not sufficiently mitigate the regressive nature of this tax cut. Even with this cap, those seniors who most need assistance still receive none, while the wealthiest seniors in our county can still receive a windfall. How can this be? By the age of 70, the age at which this tax cut becomes effective, most people are no longer earning much money, instead they are drawing down their savings. Moreover, as any decent tax attorney or accountant can show you, there are ways to make lots of money without incurring any taxable income, for example, owning a residence that is appreciating in value. With the right accountant, Warren Buffet could move to Howard County and take advantage of this tax cut.

Finally, and I know you all were hoping to hear that word “finally” soon, it should not escape your attention that the policy basis upon which this tax cut was enacted: i.e. that the County should encourage senior citizens to live in Howard County because they supposedly “use fewer services" is just that; an assumption that has not validated by scientific research. Even if this assumption were to be proven true, it’s a morally reprehensible basis for public policy. To have our local government consider any demographic group of its law abiding citizens as more desirable than another group establishes a highly immoral, dangerous, divisive and most likely unconstitutional, precedent. The obvious implication of such a policy is that some groups are to be discouraged from living here. What are we really doing here is turning our back on the unfortunate, and hoping that the poor and disabled become someone else’s problem. Is that the kind of people we are? If so, shame on us!

So what is our current, supposedly Democratic, County Council doing about this tax cut for the rich? Convening a task force to examine the issue.

What's a real Democrat to do?


Anonymous said...

Oh, God, Steve this is toooooooooooo much to read.

Anonymous said...

Hope for the tax credit, so they can move to Maplelawn.

Anonymous said...

"That’s right, the richer you are, they more money we are giving you!"

Isn't that just a wee bit of a stretch there? Last time I checked, that law only resulted in decreasing the rate at which the amount of money being taken away is increasing.

Anyway, how would you then address the problem of people who have contributed throughout their careers to help Howard County flourish, building its wonderful tax base, are now retired and on fixed incomes, and are getting clobbered by the property taxes resulting from the skyrocketing real estate prices to the point that they can't afford to stay in their homes?

Anonymous said...

In 2006 we Democrats began to reverse a trend of losing which was caused by arm-chair QB rants like yours.

You would not see the GOP constantly critique thier leaders over things that they did because they thought they had to.

Where were you and the mighty Dems in oppossiton when those hundreds of seniors testified and wrote to the Council. I only saw about 3 people in opposition when I watched it on TV. That is when they needed you--not "the morning after" when they are trying to make things right.

If the Dems had fought this last Council Ulman probably and Ball might have lost. Then, The Republicans would have put the credit in without a taskforce right now.

Is that what you wanted?

At least now, they can focus it to some seniors of low income who really are being forced out of their homes because the property taxes have increased.