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Letter: Tax legislation should help reduce poverty

To the editor,

As former North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad emphasized in his Herald Viewpoint article Nov. 16, the tax bill under consideration in Congress offers huge tax breaks for the rich and causes $1.5 trillion to be added to our national debt over the next decade.

Under this plan, the poor will suffer, because the giveaway to the top 1 percent is to be paid for by cuts to food, health care and other basic assistance for struggling Americans. For example, longstanding successful anti-poverty programs such as SNAP and Medicaid will be starved of the resources needed to help tens of millions of low-income Americans. In 2016, SNAP alone lifted 3.6 million people out of poverty. In 2015, a monthly average of 53,148 North Dakotans received SNAP help.

Furthermore, Congress is ignoring an opportunity to support low-income working families by expanding the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). While wealthier families would get the CTC, 10 million low-income children in working families would not receive the increase ($600/child in the House, $1,000/child in the Senate) in the CTC, and 1.3 million low-income immigrant children could lose the CTC altogether.

Rep. Kevin Cramer proclaims, in a Herald Viewpoint Nov. 20, the tax cuts' benefits for small businesses. This sidesteps the fact that the wealthy are the main recipients, at the expense of the poor. It is unconscionable that Congress would enact massive tax cuts primarily for the rich while short-changing children, seniors, working families and people with disabilities.

Enacting cuts that put effective anti-poverty programs at risk and leave low-income families behind is unacceptable. Please join with me in urging Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Cramer to reject these plans and instead to pass tax legislation that will reduce poverty, rather than increase wealth inequality.

Kathleen Ness

Grand Forks