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Another Voice: Tax overhaul is full of special-interest handouts

By Jim Shultz

Why is Rep. Chris Collins supporting a tax bill in Congress that aims almost all its benefits at the wealthiest people in the nation?

The tax cuts that the Republicans are trying to rush into law before Christmas are the most radical change in the U.S. tax system in more than 30 years. They include slashing the corporate tax rate and ending inheritance taxes on huge estates, and to distract us from all that, a modest tax cut for middle-class families.

Half the benefits would go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the country, but it is average working families who will pick up the tab. The Republican plans would add $150 billion a year to the national debt every year for a decade and already Republican leaders are talking about paying for that by making cuts next year to Social Security and Medicare, with the rest piled on to our kids to pay though their taxes long after we are gone.

Collins eagerly tweets estimates for what local families might save a year: In Erie County $1,845, in Niagara Country $1,703, and so on. But those cuts could be passed on their own, without adding on the far bigger cuts for corporations. In truth, these modest benefits for families are a layer of chocolate icing aimed to cover up a cake made of special interest handouts.

Collins says the corporate tax cuts are aimed at creating jobs and raising wages and that all that new investment will finance the tax cut with economic growth.

But we have been told that fairy tale before and know how it ends. In the 1980s the Republicans told us the very same thing to justify Reagan-era tax cuts for corporations and the very rich. The result of that was a tripling of the national debt in eight years, a huge increase in compensation for corporate officials, and so much stagnation of salaries for the rest of us that today most families need two incomes instead of one just to survive.

To his credit, Collins has been honest about why he supports a huge payout to the nation’s corporations, telling a Washington magazine: “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.’ ”

His loyalties are not to the working families who pay his annual salary of $174,000 but to the corporations who helped him amass a $1 million war chest for his upcoming campaign – Spectrum Cable, General Electric, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Verizon and dozens of others. They gave that money in exchange for legislation that benefits them.

Collins is simply being a dutiful servant to those who bankroll his political career.

The time to stop this raid on the national treasury is now.

Call Collins’ local office today (716-634-2324) and tell him you oppose a trillion-dollar political Christmas gift to his donors, paid for by us and our children.

Jim Shultz, founder and executive director of the Democracy Center, lives in Lockport.

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