Northwest NEWS

September 13, 1999

Editorial

Bill shows lack of vision

   Congress has just passed a $792 billion tax cut over the next ten years based on a one trillion dollar surplus in the federal budget. This huge surplus, however, is mostly an illusion.

   The first part comes from Social Security payments, which are rolling along just fine now, but will diminish significantly as baby boomers start to retire. The second comes from non-Social Security sources, which are mostly a result of deep cuts to domestic programs.

   These cuts will affect all of us to some extent (air traffic control, special education, nuclear waste disposal, road and bridge repair), but will impact the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society the most.

   For example, over the next ten years, 124 million elderly citizens will be cut from home-delivered meal programs. 260,000 homeless people will lose access to short-term emergency services. 3.7 million women, infants, and children will be cut from the WIC program, which provides nutritious foods to poor, pregnant women and young children.

   What's more, the tax cuts are disproportionately geared to benefit the wealthy. The highest-income 20% of tax-payers, who pay 60% of federal taxes, would reap 80% of the tax cut benefits (from Citizens for Tax Justice, a non-partisan citizens' organization).

   This includes an estimated $50-$80 billion tax reduction for multinational corporations, the oil, gas, and railroad industries, and capital gains tax relief to the insurance and timber industries. The remaining 80% of us would split the rest. To calculate your share, consider what Republican Senator John McCain said. He said that a family making $65,000 would realize a cut of $47 per year.

   What I see as a result of the ironically-named "Financial Freedom Act of 1999" is an increase in the disparity between rich and poor in this country. The rich get richer ... as the old saying goes. Surveys have indicated that even the wealthy would rather have any surplus given to education, defense, Medicare, and other programs (CNN/Gallup/USA Today poll, 7/16-18/99).

   There is an appalling lack of vision in this bill that threatens to bankrupt domestic programs and to bypass the groups it claims to help. I urge citizens to support a presidential veto of this bill (White House Comment Line 202- 456-1111), and to contact their members of Congress to voice their opinion.

Nicole Candiano, Woodinville