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Letter: Tax plan in Congress will benefit wealthy

To the editor,

A tax plan making its way through Congress is being sold as a "middle class" tax cut. But many economists believe that a deeper look at the numbers supports the claim that most of the benefits will flow not to the middle class, but to the wealthiest among us.

For example:

■ Four out of five dollars of the tax cuts will flow to the top 1 percent of the population, thus increasing the gap between those with unimaginable wealth and power and the rest of us.

■ Households making more than $900,000 a year would see their taxes reduced by an average of $200,000 a year, or about 22 percent of their incomes, while households making $59,000 will see a tax cut of $1,182, or a reduction of about 2 percent of their incomes.

■ There would be a dramatic shift in who pays taxes from businesses to individuals.

■ Of the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, $1 trillion will go to businesses and corporations, with only $200 billion going to individuals, most of whom will be upper middle class or wealthy.

Another reason to oppose the bill as written is that it will increase the deficit by between $1.5 and $2.4 trillion. Though some promise that tax cuts will stimulate business activity and thereby increase tax collections enough to replace what is lost, most economists believe this is a pipe dream. Ronald Reagan learned that lesson when his tax cut did not in fact increase revenues, and he was forced to raise taxes several times.

On the spending side, a hidden pitfall of the plan is that tax cuts for the wealthy are being paid for by cutting $473 billion from Medicare and $1 trillion from Medicaid (which funds about half the costs of North Dakota's rural hospitals and nursing homes).

I hope North Dakota voters will ask Sen. Hoeven, Sen. Heitkamp, and Rep. Cramer to go beyond talking points and work with moderates of both parties to amend the bill to be less favorable to wealthy people and corporations and more favorable to the middle class voters they represent.

Eliot Glassheim

Grand Forks