Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Talking 'bout Money, Money, Money...Money

Representative Garrett's still on the defensive about his vote against a round of Hurricane Katrina aid. His website now is running an "In Case You Missed It" spot touting how the government is trying to recoup funds from fraud, waste and abuse related to the recovery efforts. When voting against the package, to his credit, he gave as his reason for voting against the aid a lack of controls against such fraud. Granted, it's unclear which pot the money that was abused came from, the package he voted against or the package he voted for, but we'll let him have his moment of prideful chest beating.

In the same vein though, let's apply the same "In Case You Missed It" attitude to the President's budget proposal. There are two very big problems for our area in the proposal. First are the myriad of cuts to police, fire departments and hospitals which will inevitably lead to increased property taxes as the state and towns are forced to pick up the tab. In addition, there would likely be an increase in health insurance premiums as hospitals diligently continue providing care for those whose funding is being taken away, passing the cost to those of us fortunate enough to have health insurance.

Second, is in order to project a budget surplus in 2012 while making permanent the "temporary" tax cuts enacted a few years back, the President needs to bring in a trillion (with a t) more dollars from the alternative minimum tax (AMT). While a temporary fix is in place preventing more NJ families from falling into the AMT trap this year, it expires after next year. It has been documented for years that the AMT entrapment is spreading, and this is a large part of how the President's plan balances the budget.

But now, due to inflation coupled with administration tax policies, the AMT is hitting millions of ordinary families, many earning well under $100,000 a year. Within five years, 37 percent of people earning between $50,000 and $75,000 and 73 percent of those with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 will pay the AMT, compared with less than 3 percent three years ago. Nearly all families earning over $100,000 will pay it, according to a Brookings Institution study.
So, realistically speaking, as laid out the President is planning on a massive tax hike for families in our District. But, now to the "In Case You Missed It" part, here's what Garrett's had to say about the budget so far:
Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, said the president's budget represents "a positive step" toward that goal, and warned against Democrats' raising taxes to afford more spending.
"Every family in America must set priorities and make difficult decisions when putting together a household budget, and the federal government should be no different," said Garrett, a member of the House Budget Committee. "I hope that my friends on the other side of the aisle will remember that ... every dollar that goes into the federal budget is a dollar that comes out of a family budget."
However, Rep. Scott Garrett, R-Wantage, saw things the opposite way. He praised Bush for adopting the "common sense, bipartisan goal" of balancing the federal budget within five years.
And this from Garrett's Website:

For instance, the budget request projects a drop in the Federal deficit over the next four years, leading to a $61 billion surplus in 2012. Also, the budget plan will balance the Federal budget within five years.

I saved that one for last, because it's important to note the projected $61 billion surplus is for the BUDGET in 2012 and not, as is inferred, wiping out the $8 trillion federal deficit we are currently saddled with. Now, it's going to take a while to get through all the source material, and truth be told I'll be relying on both conservative and liberal media to point me in the right directions, but this proposal is by all early accounts a very raw deal for New Jersey. Granted, the budget is months away from being complete, but I just can't believe in the early stages, with his support, Garrett is advocating higher property taxes and the extension of the AMT to more families in our area.

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