TAXES

On Demmer, scammers and Floridians ...

Randy Demmer's Oct. 4 commentary "Congress likes job security -- its own" overlooked some facts.

First, the tax-cut bills of 2001 and 2003 were introduced by a Republican Congress and signed into law by a Republican president. Included in the law was the stipulation of expiration after 10 years. If the current Congress does not act to extend the law, it will expire just as the 2003 Republican Congress wanted it to expire. If this raises the taxes of the wealthiest taxpayers, it seems to me that the cause rests with the originators of the law in 2003, not current lawmakers.

Demmer says that if the law expires, the increased taxes will prevent small businesses from expanding and creating jobs. He is ignoring the fact that this same law in 2003 did not create any new jobs; why should we expect any job creation with this one?

At present there are bills on hold by the Republicans in the Senate that would help small businesses to expand and create badly needed jobs. All that is needed is for the Republicans to let those bills come to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Let them survive or fail on the merits of each bill.

Demmer would like to put the blame for the recession on President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and, of course, his opponent, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz. He will not admit that it was the wild spending practices of the Republican president and Congress from 2001 to 2009 that led us to our problems. Obama and the Congress are doing everything possible to correct the situation in spite of the "just say no" minority.

KENNETH HAMILTON, WASECA, MINN.

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Demmer should be reminded that what he calls "the largest tax increase in American history" was preceded by the "largest tax cut in American history," courtesy of a Republican administration.

In other words, this so-called "tax increase" simply puts us back where we started from. And I don't recall any great clamoring then for a tax break except by the very rich screaming for a cut in the capital-gains tax.

JOHN W. OTIS, COHASSET, MINN.

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It's time to wake up to the fact that government, or government-appointed bureaucrats who are entrusted to give away someone else's money, are not always diligent or trustworthy. Two news articles in the Oct. 3 Star Tribune make the point.

"Audit: Oversight of '07 flood aid was lax" cites a state auditor's report on "poor oversight of approximately $1 billion in state grants" issued annually to a variety of organizations. As always, many of the dollars intended for a good cause end up in the hands of scammers. It's not reassuring to learn that tax dollars that were supposed to be delivered for flood relief in Minnesota ended up in the hands of a company that didn't even exist at the time of the flood, or in the coffers of a city council to use for whatever purpose chosen.

The second story, "Scammers see opportunity in $20B BP fund," reports on people trying to tap into the fund that our government imposed on BP. The story mentions 31,000 submitted claims that have little or no documentation, and other documented claims that are "very suspicious." Unless one condones spending millions more to investigate each and every claim, it is inevitable that many fraudulent claims will be paid.

It may be hard to admit, but when millions or billions of someone else's money is being given away, there will be no shortage of undeserving opportunists showing up to collect. Hopefully, news stories like the ones above will get the attention of our legislators and will discourage future handouts of billions of dollars for bailouts or other forms of giveaways. But I'm not holding my breath.

WES MADER, PRIOR LAKE

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I visited with three seemingly well-to-do alumni at the Carlson School tailgating party before Saturday's Gophers football game. Well, hopefully well-to-do, because we count on their philanthropy for our fundraising efforts.

The first was a retired corporate executive. He is living well on his pension, dividends and capital gains.

The second alumnus was a retired dentist, successful in his practice and comfortable in his retirement.

The third was a lawyer, a longtime litigator at a well-known downtown law firm. Worked hard, retired well-off.

When Minnesota raises its individual income tax rate, think of all the extra money Minnesota will take in from just these three rich retirees and hundreds more like them! None. Zippo. Nada. All three are, by coincidence, residents of Florida, where there is no income tax. They each carefully log less than 183 days a year in Minnesota to avoid residency and income taxation here.

I am not saying they would have stayed in Minnesota after retirement if Minnesota taxes were lower, but surely a lot more like them will follow their lead if Minnesota taxes go up significantly, and you're reading a letter from one of them.

MARK SELLNER, MINNEAPOLIS

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The Star Tribune's Oct. 3 editorial ("Think about which tax to raise"), citing a poll, opined that Minnesotans are happy (well, are willing) to pay more taxes. What that poll showed was that, like all taxpayers everywhere, Minnesotans are happy to pay more taxes if someone else is paying them.

Which calls to mind the tax policy followed by Russell Long of Louisiana, longtime chairman of the Senate Finance Committee: "I won't tax you, and you won't tax me. We'll tax the guy behind the tree."

Which calls to mind a statement attributed to a 17th-century Scottish philosopher/economist: Democracy will last only until a majority figure out that they can tax the minority.

A sobering thought in this age of taxing the "guy behind the tree."

VERNON VANDER WEIDE,

MINNEAPOLIS

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In response to the Oct. 4 letter writer who wanted to know the whereabouts of all the jobs the Bush tax cuts were supposed to create, the answer is China and India.

LORNA ANDERSON, MINNETONKA