The Boston Herald
Friday, December 10, 1999
Let's ax tax-cut proposals
by Jack Williams
There's likely no better evidence of the strength of our economy these days than
the sight of people scrambling to spend their money in that most rarified atmosphere, the
annual Christmas Stroll on Nantucket.
People were so eager to spend their money that they were willing to be herded like
cattle on any available ferry and sit on the floor for the two-hour trip just to get to
this distant shopping mecca.
Once on the island, people consider it a privilege to be allowed to dine in
restaurants that charge $100 a person for dinner. Could there be more compelling proof
that a segment of the population is feeling ever more prosperous, buoyed by a surging
stock market and a steady rise in the value of their homes?
So why, in the midst of good times, are we suddenly facing a resurgence of plans
to reduce taxes? If there ever is a time to build roads, repair bridges and help the
needy, it is when a sizeable number of workers are doing better than they thought
It makes you wonder what Republican presidential contender George W. Bush was
thinking last week when he proposed a tax cut that would cost more than $1 trillion over
the next decade. The main beneficiaries would be those same people who were bumping into
each other in the stores of Nantucket. But I didn't hear any grumbling about the taxman
from these revelers.
After all, they've prospered even after President Clinton raised the income tax
rate on the very wealthy to 39.6 percent. This created budget surpluses and set the stage
for one of history's greatest economic booms. Ignoring this, Bush's proposal would give
the top 10 percent of the population more than 60 percent of the cuts. He wants to reduce
the two top rates to 33 percent. All of this at a time when the gap separating the richest
and poorest is growing.
Gov. Paul Cellucci, ignoring the fact that GOP congressional leaders failed to
ignite interest in a national tax cut, is doggedly going ahead with a plan to reduce the
state income tax. But voters here are demanding a better education for their children, not
a $600-a-year savings that would decimate services to the most needy.
Here's another harebrained proposal: A ballot question, authored by anti-toll
activists, that would give a full rebate for all toll and auto excise tax payments (two of
our most hated taxes). I this initiative passes, the cost to the state's general
fund would be between $550 million and $1 billion a year (depending on whose figures you
believe -- the Commuter Tax Relief Coalition or the Tax Equity Alliance for
According to a Herald story by Laura Brown, this new wrinkle on the failed Free
the Pike initiative would let taxpayers directly deduct the amount they paid in auto
excise and tolls fro their year-end tax bill. Commuter tax relief campaign manager
Harold Hubschman says the ballot question may pass because of voters' anger over four
different taxes they pay just to drive their cars. But auto excise tax revenues go to
local communities and if they were reduced the only alternative would be higher property
In spite of the rhetoric, taxes will not go away. They've been around since
mankind starting living in communities. Nobody wants to pay more taxes. However, what has
to be weighed is the price we will pay for tax cuts. If the chasm between rich and poor
continues to grow, there is a real danger offuture social unrest, precipitated by
unaffordable health care,expensive housing and more cuts in workers' benefits.
This next year, we will have several opportunities in the voting booth to let
politicians know that appealing to greed is not a guarantee of success.
Jack Williams is an anchor for WBZ-TV.
The Boston Herald
Letters to the Editor
Tuesday, December 14, 1999
Jack's plate empty
So Jack Williams has decided, based upon the number of his peers who
can afford to pay $100 for a meal at Nantucket restaurants, that those of us who eat out
at Papa Gino's don't need a tax cut either and would be greedy to vote for one.
How about all the diners just insisting that the Legislature keep its
promise that the 1989 tax hike would be temporary, in order to encourage it not to lie to
us again? Then those who don't need the money for their own families can give it to a
charity of their choice, instead of letting Tom Birmingham and Tom Finneran spend it for
Citizens for Limited Taxation
Ax Jack's audacity
I was amazed at Jack William' audacity equating advocacy for tax cut
proposals with greed. He finds himself on a Christmas shopping spree to Nantucket and
concludes that (1) the economy is booming, (2) eating a $100 meal is a privilege and (3)
those folks did not grumble about taxes. So what?
News is your business, Jack, and I have some for you: (1) There have
always been people with disposable income. (2) Some restaurants do not cost more but all
provide jobs. (3) Why would folks on a shopping trip discuss taxes?
Jack suggests that this is not the time to cut taxes, with so many
unmet needs, yet describes how we have a surplus thanks to big government extracting over
30 percent of our paychecks.
Bradford E. White
Thursday, December 16, 1999
Cut down Williams
Liberals such as Jack Williams like to label themselves as being
tolerant, but the evidence proves otherwise. Witness the silly name-calling Jack engages
in when voters dare to initiate a drive to reduce their tax burden.
Yes, Jack, I guess it is "harebrained" for the voters to
ask politicians to keep their promises.
To leftists like Jack, people who work for a living and want to keep
more of what they earn are "greedy." What liberals like Jack cannot seem to
grasp is that self-interest is the primary human motivator. You have got to be able to
care for yourself before you can take care of others.
If, according to the liberals, we cannot lower the tax burden during
an economic boom, would these same liberals then support a tax break during an economic
recession? The bottom line is that liberals are for never giving tax cuts to the public.