GOP scare tactics
I received a glossy political postcard the day before last Tuesday’s election. It read as follows:
“The balance of power on the Town of Saugerties Board is shifting — and it could cost you dearly! If the Democrats win, they will raise taxes and turn Ulster County into a Sanctuary County. But fortunately, there is a team fighting to protect the Town of Saugerties and Ulster County.”
The following candidates chose to put their names and photos to this card: Doug Myer, for Highway Superintendent; Don Tucker, for Town Councilman; James “Jimmy” Bruno, for Town Supervisor; Lisa Stanley, for Town Clerk; Dan Lamb, for Town Justice; Vince Altieri, for Town Councilman; Julie Dunn, for Tax Collector.
In a county with a significant rural population, a county dependent upon agricultural industry and therefore upon migrant labor, it is disingenuous to assert that migrants somehow pose a threat to our well-being.
The New York GOP chose to use the notion of “sanctuary” as a scare tactic, even though sanctuary has no legal definition. Currently, the most progressive sanctuary city or county policy only requires that local law enforcement decline to either assist or interfere with ICE activity; ICE, as a federally-funded agency, continues to do its work.
Given the documented cruelty of ICE detainment tactics, declining to facilitate the removal without proven cause of our neighbors is the very least that we can ask of local law enforcement. Moreover, people afraid of deportation are dramatically less likely to approach law enforcement to report crimes, or to cooperate in law enforcement investigations; how does that make our community any safer?
The implication that the GOP has chosen to make — that immigrants are unworthy of basic rights and protections, and somehow dangerous to “real” Saugerties and Ulster County residents — is downright ignorant, cruel and actively harmful. The local candidates that put their names to this postcard should be ashamed of excluding and alienating members of the communities that they claim to want to serve.
Republican loopholes help the rich
Members of Congress have said publicly that if their party can’t pass tax reform, donor money will dry up. Since they were elected to serve the American people, not donors, a tax plan that allows funding for health care, education and Social Security should be a priority. Perhaps Congress should consider the potential for revenue in the untaxed billions of dollars stashed off shore.
The recent release of a cache of documents known as the Paradise Papers reveals just how much revenue our country is being cheated out of.
The United States, with 31,000 individual and corporate entities exposed through this document trove, has the greatest number of “accounts” currently taking advantage of this loophole. Sadly, closing this loophole is not part of the Republican tax reform plan.
Thousands of American corporations and super wealthy American citizens have stashed billions of potentially taxable dollars in secret off shore bank accounts, for the sole purpose of avoiding their responsibility to pay taxes. More than a dozen of Trump’s advisers and Cabinet members are among those who divert their money to off shore entities to avoid taxes.
How is a person to believe that Trump, his advisers and Cabinet members are really interested in making American great again when they hide money off shore to avoid taxes, revenue that could help close the deficit, shore up Social Security, and provide health care for all Americans, as well as education and job training?
Clearly, corporations are already getting a big enough tax break by hiding profits off shore. Why should we lower a tax the corporations aren’t even paying now? Eliminate the estate tax? Aren’t the rich getting enough of a tax break? The Alternative Minimum tax, put in place to ensure that the wealthy paid at least some taxes, should be increased, not eliminated.
Instead of looking for ways to eliminate deductions for hard working and deserving citizens, Republicans should stop trying to pay for their tax breaks for the rich on the backs of the middle class and instead start rewriting the tax code to bring that off shore money home, tax it and use the revenue to really make America great.
Deidre J. Byrne
Humbled, motivated and available
As the next District 2 Ulster County Legislator I would like to thank all of Saugerties for entrusting me with the privilege of representing you in the Legislature. I take the responsibility seriously and promise to stay positive and be a unifying presence in the town and county. We are all in this together and I cannot wait to get started.
Big things are coming down the line so stay tuned. Please contact me about anything at anytime. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone: (845) 901-0520.
District 2 County Legislator elect
STEM disaster in House tax bill
Among the many bad changes to the tax code proposed in the 2017 House bill is one that would be a disaster to graduate education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Sec 1204 (a) would treat tuition waivers for graduate students in academic fields as taxable income. Under existing IRC 117 (d)(5), the student does not have to pay income tax on the value of the waiver (typically in low five figures). The new House bill would make her or him liable to pay thousands of dollars in income tax on it.
On November 14, I urged Rep. Faso by e-mail not to support the bill at all and calling his attention to the thoughtless provision of Sec 1204. He has bigger fish to fry, like fighting to preserve the SALT exemption (gutted in the GOP bill); still, the shortsighted meanness of striking the exemption on tuition waivers for grad students is itself a strong reason to oppose the whole bill.
Saugerties Times readers: The House may have passed a bill when you read this, but if not, I urge you to communicate your views on the Tax cut bill to the Congressman, singling out Sec 1204. Whatever your views may be on other pieces of the legislation, I think we all agree that making it more expensive to get a doctorate in STEM will hurt our nation.
For more insight on sec 1204 go to https://surlysubgroup.com/2017/11/06/gop-raises-taxes-on-graduate-students-or-does-it/.
Stephen Q. Shafer
Time to work together
The votes are cast and the results are in so I think it is time for the candidates from all parties, whether winners or losers, to dust themselves off and find a way to come together for the good of the citizens of Saugerties. I’m alarmed by post-election remarks such as “…I’m done..” “…It’ll be over” and “./..dirty campaign, comments from people who throughout the campaign championed they were in the race for the people of Saugerties. Political races are not for individual victories but rather for the people who elect you. At the end of the day we are all members of the Saugerties community and whether you are on elected official or not you should be working for the good of all. I read campaign promises stating there were ways to lower taxes for all…do these disappear because you lost, or were they hollow campaign promises?
I call upon the political party leaders to come down off their party platforms and come together to address the issues facing all of us in the coming months. Put aside political party nonsense and let’s all work together for our great community of Saugerties. We can all learn from the comments of newly elected town board member Paul Andreassen, who through his campaign stated “I’m here to represent all of the people,” never invoking one political party over another. Our community deserves this from all of you, both winners and losers.