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Tax legislation

AL CHARLSON

WAVERLY — The message to younger Americans in the income tax bill currently before Congress is clear. Their financially fortunate, primarily older neighbors will do everything possible to protect their wealth. And they have no qualms about cutting rungs out of the ladder younger generations are trying to climb. Investment income continues to be treated more favorably than the earnings received for labor, skill and talent. Special treatment of dividends and capital gains is preserved.

A new break for “pass through” business income is added. A typical “pass through” investment is a passive interest in a limited liability company engaged in real estate development and marketed only to high net worth accredited investors. The choices made to offset the cost of new tax breaks are stunning. The specific deductions eliminated or trimmed include a number typically most important to younger people: student loan interest, moving expenses and home mortgage interest.

Also lost is the medical expense deduction which typically has been most important to people not protected by the employer sponsored health insurance/Medicare safety net. Yet the special carried interest break for compensation earned by hedge fund and private equity fund managers is largely untouched.

No men harassed?

DANN MYERS

WATERLOO — It seems like every day we read about more and more women from different walks of life who have come forward to publicly share their unpleasant experiences concerning having been intimidated, subjected to lewd behavior, unwelcome advances, etc., by males in positions of authority at some point during their careers. Conversely, during the same time frame there have been zero reports from male victims who have been put in the same position during their careers by their female superiors.

Are we supposed to believe that this type of behavior is non-existent in the workplace simply because no male has had the courage yet to come forward?

Madison’s day

ROGER W. SMITH

WATERLOO — We are now well into another academic year in which young people seeking a post-secondary education are being introduced to binge drinking, rampant sexual activities, initiation into the drug culture and who can imagine what else.

Is it possible there is too much time available for these self-destructive and self-indulged activities?

Consider, for example, the schedule of our fourth president, James Madison, when he was a student at Princeton University in the 18th century, as described by Lynne Cheney in “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered:” “A bell ran at 5 a.m. and lest anyone fail to hear it, a servant followed, beating on every door. Students rushed to morning prayers then returned to their rooms to study until breakfast at 8 a.m. Recitation came after breakfast and was followed by a time for study that lasted until 1 p.m. dinner. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. was another study period. After 9 p.m. students could go go bed, but, as one noted, ‘to go before is reproachful.’”

Madison seems to have turned out quite well without any of the aforementioned destructive diversions.

Good Samaritans

ROSELYN DIERS

CARROLL — On Oct. 21, my husband and I and my sister and her husband were in Waterloo for a family wedding at the beautiful Elks Club downtown. It was a dark rainy night and we were not familiar with the route back to our hotel. We are senior citizens, and my sister has COPD. In the heavy air, she was unable to breath and was choking. We had no idea what street we were on, and in our panic I could not even operate my phone.

My husband jumped out in the pouring rain and stood in the middle of the street to flag down a car. Our angel’s name was Pablo. He called 911 and gave our correct address. He stayed with us till the ambulance arrived.

We are so thankful to this young man for his care about our well being. As we were making our way across the parking area to the emergency room, a young woman who was leaving handed us her umbrella. Such a lovely gesture.

My sister was in Covenant Medical Center for five days and received excellent care.

So this is a shout out to some good Samaritans in your city. It makes us feel good about society in spite of bad news every day.

GOP tax plan

STEPHANIE SCHWINN

WAVERLY — The GOP tax plan is out. It lowers the corporate statutory tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent alleging such a reduction will increase wages, improve benefits and stimulate hiring. While it is true the statutory corporate rate (what the tax code says corporations have to pay) is 35 percent, many highly profitable companies use loopholes in the tax code to reduce their tax liability, eliminate it or even get refunds. For example, in 2016 Wal-Mart’s revenue was $485 billion but it paid only 1.2 percent in taxes, Wells Fargo’s revenue was $98 billion, but it paid 10 percent in taxes.

Without closing those loopholes, lowering the statutory rate is meaningless because those companies will still be able to use those loopholes to minimize their tax liability. It will not increase wages or hiring, those savings will be used to increase CEO pay and shareholder profits as has been the case since the inception of Reaganomics in 1980s as evidenced by stagnate wages and decreasing benefits.

Their tax plan eliminates many deductions the middle class benefits from such as mortgage interest, medical expenses, state and local taxes, student loan interest etc. It will result in increased taxation of the middle class.

GOP tax plan

TIM WAGNER

DECORAH — More eastern Iowans realize Rod Blum does not represent them. Blum is an integral player in the increased wealth concentration in the upper 1 percent of American society, which now controls 20 percent of the national income.

Since 1980, the top tax bracket has gone from 70 percent to 40 percent, under the narrative of “trickle-down economics,” a theory proven false by economists many times. Rob Blum, worth an estimated $15.4 million, continues to preach it because it only helps millionaires like him.

Why do we see this increased concentration of wealth while middle class wages have stagnated, middle class debt and bankruptcies are the highest level ever and more people are having to work longer hours or two to three jobs just to pay rent or put food on the table? Pay attention to what is actually going on instead of smooth GOP talking points.

We should be investing in people, i.e., education, affordable and accessible health care, infrastructure, etc., programs that keep people productive, healthy and improving. But those programs will be cut even more so the wealthy can get another tax cut they don’t need.

If Rod Blum doesn’t oppose the GOP/Trump tax plan, I’d say District 1 needs a new congressperson.

Waterloo taxes

FOREST DILLAVOU

WATERLOO — Taxes in Waterloo are the talk of the town. This time of year the mayor and council say we lowered taxes. My properties all showed increased taxes. The levy rate went down but spending did not.

The city over the past few years has increased rental fees from $25 for five years to $25 per year. Added storm water fees are paid on all properties, so we pay this on our homes, on our county properties, school properties, churches and all nonprofits, so there’s lots of added dollars for the city to spend. The city says we should lobby the state for continued backfill dollars for the commercial tax rollback dollars. All state dollars and fee dollars are paid by us.

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