Fair tax, but only after reform

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Wednesday Journal has published countless articles and letters as well as commentary on President Trump, some deserved and plenty over the top. Meanwhile, the paper continues to understate or even overlook the crisis we face in Illinois with mismanagement and corruption at every level. 

After attending Senator Harmon's town hall at Julian Middle School, I have concluded that the current political leadership in Oak Park, as well as the entire state of Illinois, is hopelessly lost. Senator Harmon asserted that the state's two sins over time have been failing to fund public education and failing to fund the pension system. His cure for these failures is his fair tax proposal. 

Fritz Kaegi decried the limits homeowners may deduct on their federal income tax under the new tax laws. But he failed to mention that his proposed reforms were squashed in the legislature by none other than Mike Madigan. Property values have plummeted in Oak Park largely due to the overwhelming tax burden — especially on higher-end homes.

What's wrong? 

1) We allow elected office holders to work in businesses that have a direct conflict with their official duties as legislators.

2) We do not limit terms, which allow corrupt (and old) politicians to protect their power at the expense of progressive change.

3) We gerrymander.

4) We allow elected judges such as Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke to deem pension reform unconstitutional instead of recusing herself from the decision.

Senator Harmon likes to point out that all our neighboring states have a progressive tax, but he does so without acknowledging that these states are not hundreds of billions in debt. Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa have been much more responsible stewards of their taxpayers' money and don't view recklessly issuing bonds to pay a backlog of debt as some miracle cure.

I am not opposed to a progressive tax but will only support it after the state legislators implement meaningful fiscal and ethics reform.

Sean O'Malley

Oak Park

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Reader Comments

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Mike Marek  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 10:35 PM

Amen Sean...for the other side of this coin I am attaching this article from Wirepoints. Org a non profit research organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility in Illinois https://wirepoints.org/yes-the-rich-are-fleeing-illinois-and-theyre-taking-billions-with-them/

Pati Flannery  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 7:57 PM

Well said ?'?

Terrence Smith  

Posted: February 12th, 2020 1:34 PM

This is a terrific assessment Sean. I've asked, if you can open up the constitution to eliminate the flat tax rate, why can't you do the same and institute modest pension reforms? Let's just start with going back to those reforms that were attained bipartisan approval during Pat Quinn's term but we're struck down by our wonderful, yet conflicted Supreme Court. The landslide election that has resulted in house and senate super majorities in our state government has wiped out any checks and balances we may have had previously, or any Willingness to compromise on the issue. I'd vote no on the fair tax- you cannot trust these people.

Nick A Binotti  

Posted: February 12th, 2020 12:51 PM

At the Fair Tax forum last night, a gentleman in the audience asked why the fair tax brackets were not indexed for inflation. The answer Senator Harmon gave was that inflation is a distant concern and, if it does becomes a problem, we could deal with it later. But in the last legislative session, the GA passed two tax/cost increases (doubling the gas tax and raising the teacher minimum wage) that also added inflation indexing as a component to those new laws. In other words, when wealthy special interests are involved, inflation is important and is dealt with immediately. When it's just working families' incomes, inflation is no big deal and maybe we'll do something many years from now. It's flippant messaging like this that may well sink the Fair Tax.

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