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Opinion Letters Taxpayers Protection Pledge

I,___ , pledge to the taxpayers of the state of___, and the American people that I will:

ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and

TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.

“Marginal income tax rates” refer the low tax rates currently paid by wealthy individuals and business concerns. “Elimination of deductions and credits,” applies to deductions currently available to allow the wealthy to evade taxation.

This much publicized pledge has been signed by 238 House members and 41 Senators in the 112th Congress. At the state level 13 governors and 1249 state legislators have taken the pledge, along with Senator Jim Davis. How did this pledge come about? Did the American people hold a referendum and vote for this pledge? Every non-partisan poll shows that over 70% of Americans believe citizens making over a million dollars should be paying their fair share of the tax burden. They support eliminating the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy. Furthermore, most Americans are opposed to funding the government on the backs of the middle- class and the poor, cutting benefits in Social Security and Medicare. If the American public did not vote for this pledge and polls clearly demonstrate that they do not support it, who does support it and where did it come from?

This pledge is the brainchild of a group calling itself Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). This group is composed of wealthy individuals and businesses opposed to higher taxes at all levels of government. There are virtually no Democrats in this group, and, to my knowledge, no elected Democrats have signed on to this pledge. This is not a pledge to benefit the American people. It results in great economic sacrifices by the middle-class and the poor while excluding wealthy Americans from sharing the pain. The pledge was created by conservative, largely Republican, business and corporate representatives to protect their own financial interests.

“The pledge” is evidently forever, with no ending date and no provision to accommodate any catastrophic national disaster. Remember the scramble to find federal emergency funding following natural disasters, tornados, flooding, droughts, etc that occurred this past year? Pledge signers” wanted to fund relieving these disasters with cuts in programs designed to protect the environment and benefit the middle-class and the poor.

The richest 1% of Americans now own over 40% of the nation’s wealth. The bottom 80% of Americans own only about 7%. Pledge signers are not making this pledge to the American people but to very wealthy, individuals such Art Pope whose millions were instrumental in buying their election to public office. Concerned Americans need to act to preserve political and economic democracy. We do have a choice. Vote these “pledge signers” out of office in 2012!

Margery Abel — Franklin, N.C.

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