In support of Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed health care cuts, one letter writer spoke of “virtues and morals.” Rep. Phil Curtis stated that those who link these proposed cuts to the recently passed tax cuts are engaging in “reckless, irresponsible, class warfare at its worst.”

I agree with Curtis that the recently passed tax cut did not “lead to the current budget shortfall,” but I strongly disagree that there is no connection between the two events.

The tax cut will cost $199 million in 2012-2013 and $399 million in 2014-2015. The cuts overwhelmingly benefit the top 1 percent of Maine taxpayers — an average of $2,905 per person. The middle class will receive far less.

This huge difference is not class warfare rhetoric. It is far worse — actual class warfare implemented as tax policy. Stating that every Mainer will receive “some sort of tax relief,” as Curtis did, is a way of disguising this inconvenient truth.

Here’s my proposal:

1. Go through the proposed health care cuts item by item and decide which ones would really benefit the state economically. Cutting off services to many of Maine’s neediest will just force them to go to hospital emergency rooms, whose increased costs will be passed on to businesses and taxpayers.

2. Make up some of the shortfall by reducing the huge tax cut to the top 1 percent and reinstating the estate tax for $1 million-$2 million estates. These two actions would generate about $50 million.

This approach would be both virtuous and moral and not involve class warfare. The wealthy still would get a tax break, just not as much. Some programs for the poor and disabled would be cut, but only after thorough review to decide which ones make economic and humanitarian sense.

Walt Novey


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