Rep. McClintock: House tax bill fails the ‘do no harm’ test (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Rep. McClintock: House tax bill fails the ‘do no harm’ test (opinion)

Editor's note: The following statement was made by Rep. Tom McClintock Thursday following his "no" vote on the House Tax Reform Bill. The House voted 227-205 to approve the bill.

I am convinced that the business side of this bill will produce dramatic growth for the national economy. However, I believe the personal income tax side does significant harm, particularly to many families in high-cost, high-tax states like California.

This was entirely avoidable, if higher priority had been given to family tax relief than was given to tax simplification. The current major deductions for such expenses as mortgage interest, state and local income taxes, medical and casualty expenses and student loan interest could all have been retained in the bill, while still providing a significant, across-the-board reduction in all tax rates, assuring that no taxpayer was left behind.

Unfortunately, the amendment that I offered to do so failed, and despite many discussions, I have yet to receive assurances that the final bill will protect every taxpayer against tax increases.

I favor a flat tax, but families make the most important financial decisions in their lives based in part — sometimes in large part — on the tax deductions available to them.

Transitioning to a flat tax requires a very gradual phase-out of deductions over a long period of time to prevent trapping taxpayers in a bait-and-switch world where deductions they had counted on suddenly disappear. This bill ignores that necessity.

This is particularly harmful to Californians who suffer under policies that have grossly inflated the cost of housing. Even though the mortgage interest deduction is grandfathered for existing mortgages, the limitation will make home ownership less affordable for future home buyers and devalue the asset for current homeowners. Yes, that will cause home prices to decline, but for all the wrong reasons.

The state and local tax deduction is removed under this bill, further disproportionately affecting Californians. The rationale is that taxpayers in low-tax states subsidize the high spending in liberal states. But this ignores a central tenet of federalism: that governments closest to the people should make most of the decisions and provide most of the services, and thus have first call on tax revenues — the federal government is supposed to get in line behind them. The bill turns this principle on its head and amounts to a double-taxation of every dollar government claims from family earnings.

Other provisions permanently eliminate personal tax exemptions, replacing them with a personal tax credit. Unfortunately, the credit goes away in five years, meaning that many families seeing a tax cut this year may end up paying higher taxes in future years.

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that nearly one fifth of families earning between $75,000 and $100,000 will see an average $500 annual tax increase by 2027.

It is claimed that the average taxpayer will see their taxes reduced. This invokes the mystery of the 6-foot man who drowned in a pond whose average depth was 5-feet. It is undeniable that a significant portion of taxpayers will see an increase in their taxes, particularly in California, and particularly over time as the temporary relief provisions phase out.

Nor are the personal income tax provisions likely to produce much economic growth. Productivity occurs at the marginal rate — how much your next dollar is taxed. By leaving the top marginal tax at 39.6 percent — and indeed, creating a new bubble bracket of 46 percent — the economic advantages are severely limited.

Congress has refused to cut spending, and spending drives both debt and taxes. Economic growth is the only other way to address our approaching debt crisis. Increasing the debt to produce growth is only justifiable if the tax reform maximizes growth potential. The personal income tax provisions fall short.

These infirmities might still be justifiable in exchange for the positive economic impact of the business tax provisions in the bill. Tragically, though, they are unnecessary and could easily have been fixed in a manner that guaranteed no taxpayer is made worse off.

Proponents argue this is a work in progress and the bill can be improved in conference. I hope that is the case and eagerly await it.

Unfortunately, the House must decide the merits of the bill before it today — not what might come to it in the future. It is rare for the conference process to improve bills, and a commitment to provide taxpayer protections in the final version has not been forthcoming. In this case, the Hippocratic oath makes for good legislative advice: "First, do no harm."

Particularly for California, this bill fails that test.

Republican Tom McClintock represents the 4th Congressional District of California, which includes El Dorado, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne counties, as well as portions of Fresno, Madera, Nevada and Placer counties.

Rozak: 13 signs that tell me I’m ready for ski season to start (opinion)

I'm just now realizing I'm a little nuts. OK, maybe more than a little. My girlfriend, Jill, is sick of hearing me complain (already) about winter not coming fast enough.

I realize my whole disposition is starting to be affected in anticipation for winter.

Here are my top reasons I know I'm itching (psycho) for snow.

I traded in my beanie for a regular trucker hat hoping that changes my fortune and brings cooler weather and snow.

I stare at the weather app on my iPad in the morning before work and check the forecast every hour hoping that a new Godzilla storm is headed our way, or to confirm that the storm on the horizon is still coming.

I've wiped down my winter gear for a third time and am staring at it in the corner of the room — I apologize to it that it's not out being used. And I also wonder if I should again wax my skis for a third time … afraid that it might be losing its effectiveness after I did it a couple weeks ago.

I drive up the mountain passes after each storm to survey the situation, only to be disappointed because there's a few inches of snow and not feet.

I grouch at everybody that loves sunny skies in November.

I disagree with everybody who has bad memories of last year's winter.

I write snow sports article after snow sports article waiting for the big dump that never comes, or so it feels.

I think about resorts' opening days, everyday, at least three times per day.

I whine to my girlfriend that the drought has returned and it's not going to snow this year.

I put spider spikes on her car in hopes that she'll need to use them soon.

I live life through one open resort that has just one chairlift running, and want to be there for a couple of runs no matter the cost … almost.

I hike up the mountains on Carson Pass, look across to other peaks and think, "I could hike up there and rip down that 100-yard snow chute. That looks doable."

I hike up Mount Tallac with a group of friends, doing reconnaissance so I can pick my future lines of descent.

Letter: Help us help others

We are Maiella and Milan Riva and Lily Demus. Last year we collected gloves, hats, socks and thermals for our Tahoe Warm Room. We far exceeded our goal with all of your help. This year we are raising items for our local and surrounding foster care services. We are asking for donations of new toys, gift cards, pajamas and clothing for children and teens.

Please help us help others. Any of the above items can be dropped in the tall box in the front office of South Tahoe Middle School or Bijou Community School or in the labeled cans at the following addresses: 2235 Morro Drive; 2462 Alice Lake Road; and 562 Tehema Drive.

We are so grateful and thankful for your support in our fundraiser.

Maiella, Lily and Milan

South Lake Tahoe, California

Letter: Seeking family members of former mill workers

Our company is currently working with the Tahoe National Forest on a research project about the old Lewis Mill (also known as the Lewis Brothers' Mill or Lewis and Peck Mill) located south of Loyalton along Smithneck Creek. The mill began operations in 1886 and ran into the early 1900s.

We would be interested in talking to anyone who had a family member who worked at the mill and are particularly interested in finding photos of the operation that we could reproduced for use in a technical report, a public document, and on a roadside sign. If you have photos or information about the mill, please contact me at SharonW@farwestern.comor 530-304-4110.

Thank you,

Sharon Waechter

Far Western Anthropological Research Group

Davis California

Green slime keeps on oozing

Trump health care — the promises: "Insurance for everybody;" "no one will lose coverage;" "nobody will be worse off;" "everybody is going to get taken care of;" "leave Medicare and Social Security alone."

The reality: According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, 20 million Americans would have lost the health coverage they now have and, while the cost for the young and healthy might have come down, along with reduced coverage, the cost for older, sicker citizens would have skyrocketed. This would have been the likely scenario if three Republican senators hadn't had the courage to put the welfare of their fellow Americans above that of their party. (Only three out of 52 . . . how sad!)

Get ready now for Trump tax reform. He promised to "cut taxes tremendously for the middle class" and that the wealthiest Americans, "will not be gaining at all with this plan."

Again, the reality: According to the New York Times (fake news, of course) the proposed tax cut would go mostly to the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans while the bottom 35 percent would see no change or, in many cases an actual increase in their tax liability with the lowest rate going from 10 percent to 12 percent and most deductions, including those for medical expenses disappearing.

At the same time, the national debt would soar to new heights, but not to worry; plans are afoot to make up the difference by slashing Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security along with a smattering of brilliant little ideas like tripling entrance fees to our national parks ($70 to drive through Yosemite?).

Now, let us pirouette as gracefully as possible to a statement made to a group of reporters on Sept. 27 of this year by the Prevaricator in Chief: "My plan is for the working people, and my plan is for jobs . . . I don't benefit. I don't benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth."

Mustering all the eloquence at his disposal, this is exactly what the man said. And the Green Slime keeps on oozing.

John O'Neill

Minden, Nevada

An alternative to hiring a VHR monitoring firm

Watching the SLT City Council from Meyers would be entertaining if it wasn't for their frittering away my tax money.

With their new VHR rules they couldn't wait to hire another outside firm to "monitor" the non-permitted VHRs. After all, it would only cost about $196,000 per year like it did in Placer County. Hmmm, how many potholes would that fill? Why not spend a couple of hundred dollars making up small unobtrusive signs that would be issued to each permit holder to be posted at the permitted address visible from the street. And, maybe each council member could drive around the city one weekend a month to see what was going on in the city.

The presentation by Host Compliance "received an overwhelmingly positive response from the City Council." Of course it did, the council's only joy seems to coming from hiring consultants and outside companies to do what could be accomplished by the city staff with a little thought and leadership.

Harold Parks

Meyers, California

Guest column: ‘Stash your trash,’ keep Tahoe clean (opinion)

As we all know, Lake Tahoe is a spectacular place. Visitors come from all over the world to see and experience the lake's clear waters and to immerse themselves in the surrounding forests and trails.

Those of us who live here have the great privilege of experiencing this beautiful place on a daily basis and of course none of us want to see trash in our environment. Luckily, we usually don't see a lot of litter in South Tahoe compared to some other areas, but that isn't because the litter doesn't exist — it is because of the hard work of the Clean Tahoe Program's field crew.

Clean Tahoe is a nonprofit that contracts with the city of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County to provide litter abatement services. We recently wrapped up our fiscal year and the statistics of what our two-person field crew picked up from South Tahoe's roadways and neighborhoods is staggering. Consider a few highlights:

Total Litter/Debris Collected: 484 Cubic Yards (almost 5 CUBIC football fields!)

Illegal Dump Cleanups: 189 (including 63 mattresses, 86 pieces of furniture, 49 appliances, and 97 TVs)

Animal-in-Trash Incidents/Cleanups: 493

Repeat Offender Animal-in-Trash Incidents: 102

Incidents Sent to SLT City Code Enforcement: 155

While cleaning up illegal dumps is a large part of what we do, Clean Tahoe's field crew members also follow scheduled routes through our neighborhoods to ensure compliance with local garbage containment ordinances and to pick up loose litter from the area.

We host volunteer cleanup events, promote our "Be Bear Aware" outreach campaign, clean abandoned homeless camps, and coordinate with local enforcement agencies regarding garbage issues.

As we reflect on the past year, of particular concern is the number of incidents where animals — usually bears but also coyotes, raccoons and even dogs — have knocked over trash cans or accessed dumpsters in search of food.

At certain times of year our crew spends most of its workday cleaning animal-in-trash incidents, and those are just the ones that we come across or receive reports about; we know there are many more that go unreported.

And while many locals might assume visitors are the only ones who let bears get into their trash, we see just as great a number of problems occurring at full-time residences and multi-family complexes.

While we are committed to cleaning up those messes so litter doesn't spread through our neighborhoods, we'd ideally like to prevent them from happening in the first place.

As a community, it's time we make it a priority to protect wildlife and keep our trash contained. Please help us keep our community clean by following a few simple tips:

Do not put food-related garbage out until the morning of your trash collection day (unless you have a metal bear bin).

If you don't have a bear bin, consider installing one — it's a great investment and there is now a no-interest loan program where you can finance the cost through South Tahoe Refuse (call them for details at 530-541-5105).

Be sure all trash cans have a tight-fitting lid.

Always keep dumpsters locked when not in use.

If you rent your property, educate your tenants or visitors on securing trash appropriately.

If you see a trash problem in your neighborhood, please report it to the Clean Tahoe Program — 530-544-4210 or info@clean-tahoe.org.

Thank you for keeping our beautiful environment clean and litter-free!

Catherine Cecchi is the executive director of the Clean Tahoe Program. She can be reached at catherine@clean-tahoe.org.

Ask Tessie: Why do you stick with the ‘Tragic Tribune’?

Dear Tessie,

I don't know why you're wasting your talents at the "Tragic Tribune." Those folks over there have got it ALL WRONG. I mean, the entire rag is basically an opinion piece, am I right? Plus, word on the street is they take all of their editorial advice from their advertisers.

Sincerely,

Walter Cronkite's Ghost, eight-year Tahoe local

Those words could not be truer had they come from the reinstated Twitter account of President Donald Trump himself. Let me give it to you straight: I'm in it for the money, but things are changing over here at the Tribune, and I'll tell you why.

The failure of Measure C was a real financial blow to my short-sighted colleagues, who completely underestimated how lazy people are (Netflix > voting) and heavily invested in the local asphalt industry in anticipation of our roads actually getting fixed in the next decade.

Well, we all know how that turned out, so let's just say that investment was money down the poorly-filtered roadside drain. So we at the Tribune have had to give up some of the luxuries we've become accustomed to, because really, there are only so many hundies you can accept under the table from people looking for a choice front page spread.

So long, weekly team-building spa days. See you later, editorial meetings aboard the company yacht, Off The Record.

That standing table at Friday Station? Gone. No more mid-day martini buzzes while slurping oysters and discussing how to better push our own agendas through slanted articles. What's worse, we've had to drastically cut back on our top hat and monocle budget!

You think that fireplace at City Hall is nice? Come check out our office. If you peer around the corner where we all hide when someone comes in to yell at us because we decided the score of the peewee hockey game wasn't newsworthy, you'll see how cush we've got it. So cush, in fact, that in order to make up for the sunken investment, we're renting the place out on AirBnB to SnowGlobers. We're pushing the whole idea of "office-themed living" as the next big thing. Millennials love their obscure and impractical trends.

The plan is to take that money, buy the old Kingsbury Middle School, knock it down and turn it into housing for the One Percent. I can't imagine anyone would have complaints about that. Finger crossed this will bring in enough money to get that helipad we've been lusting after on top of the Tahoe Mountain Lab.

But if all else fails, we've still got the Loop Road.

Tahoe Tessie is a humorous take on the standard advice column. It is produced by the Tribune staff, and it is not meant to be taken literally. Have a question you want to ask Tessie? Send it to tahoetessie@tahoedailytribune.com.

Letter to the editor: Please take time to thank a veteran

On Nov. 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 Armistice Day in order to commemorate the end of World War I and the veterans who served.

Each year, Americans gather to celebrate and commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of all United States veterans, on what is now called Veterans Day.

While most people recognize veterans one day a year, veterans' service organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, strive to highlight the importance of veterans all year round. It is easy to overlook the role that veterans play each day in America, but impossible to forget the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This Veterans Day, I ask you to stop and take a moment to thank a veteran for their service or contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post for ways that you can make a difference in the lives of veterans on this special day, as well as throughout the rest of the year.

Wayne Wright

State Commander

Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

Department of California

Lake Tahoe Community College president: Commitment to do more for veterans (opinion)

There is nothing like taking a walk in someone else's shoes for creating real understanding of what others experience, and the sacrifices people quietly make in their daily lives.

This Veterans Day, I have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the work our brave men and women in the United States armed forces perform. I've just returned from being a guest on the USS Carl Vinson, the U.S. Navy's third Nimitz-class supercarrier based out of San Diego, now located more than 100 nautical miles off the coast.

I saw first-hand the teamwork, innovation, and camaraderie that our armed services create. During a welcoming session, I and other guests heard a lot about the pride and professionalism of today's Navy — but we could all clearly see this in practice for ourselves.

This ship and its inhabitants are performing dangerous work: after a tour in the contested waters of the South China Sea earlier this year, the warship is next heading out for a series of training exercises before deploying to replace the USS Ronald Reagan in the Western Pacific, to monitor North Korea amid escalating tensions with the West.

To be able to witness these men and women preparing their ship and each other for that kind of real-world pressure was an amazing experience I'll never forget. This was also a special experience for me personally, as both my father, Allan DeFranco, and my grandfather, George Quadros, served in the Navy.

As I walked the grounds of the Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado before departing for the carrier, I reflected on my grandfather's service as an aircraft mechanic at that same base more than 70 years ago, during World War II.

As the son of Depression-era immigrants, it was his military career that allowed him and many other members of the "Greatest Generation" to build a prosperous life and a pathway for me and generations to come.

With these thoughts in my head, I was flown out to a fully crewed-up Carl Vinson, with 5,000 service members on board and 70 aircraft. I was allowed to witness their workday– day and night flight operations and all that that entails, plus a look at the well-oiled machine that is an aircraft maintenance production line.

The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous work environments in the world, so watching our Navy F-18 fighter jets conduct precise cat-shot launches and pull off delicate tail hook landings was something to see. Watching nighttime flight operations from "Vulture's Row" drove home for me the amazing precision and seamless teamwork this work requires.

It really takes a small city of highly skilled people to keep a multi-million dollar fleet of highly advanced military aircraft in top shape, and our Navy pilots safe. And yes, I got to experience what it's like to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.

It was thrilling, terrifying, and a few other things too — those G-forces are no joke. But it’s the experience I had with the crew that has changed me and left me with lessons that will inform my work at the college.

For one thing, until you've seen it for yourself, you may not fully appreciate the high level of specialized skills needed in a modern military.

That, combined with the kind of self-containment and calm under pressure required of the job, means that our current service people and veterans have many more advanced capabilities and relevant experiences than we perhaps realize.

This background makes them outstanding contributors in any number of professions, even ones that may not seem on their surface to naturally lend themselves to a military background.

As a college president on a campus serving dozens of veteran-students each quarter, I now have an even better understanding of how much they have to contribute, and the vast skill sets they bring to campus.

Community colleges like Lake Tahoe Community College have a crucial role to play in serving our veterans and ensuring that their education leads to fulfilling careers, either in or out of the military. For those who aspire to rise in the ranks and become military officers, a four-year degree is a must, at a minimum.

Many service people earn their four-year degrees through affordable online options, and that's a specific area where California community colleges like LTCC can and do provide a vital source for accessible, high-quality online education.

But whether we serve them online or in our physical classrooms, veterans come to us with advanced, specialized skills – we need to provide them with an educational experience that acknowledges what they already bring to the table, and gives them the support they need to take their next step, whatever it may be.

LTCC took a big step in better supporting student-veterans with the opening of our Veterans Center in 2016 – a safe place on campus to learn, relax, receive academic or emotional support, and to network with other former military members.

I know we can do even more, and that's what I am committing to on this Veterans Day. The crew members I just had the honor of standing alongside on the USS Carl Vinson and the veterans who will come to LTCC to better their lives after service deserve no less.

Jeff DeFranco is the superintendent/president at Lake Tahoe Community College. To see more from my trip aboard the USS Carl Vinson, please visit my Twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/jeffdefranco. You are also welcome to contact me by email at president@ltcc.edu.