Mary McCracken

R epresentative Greg Walden appeared on the front page of the Jan. 29 Observer passing a flag to the local Vets Ice Cream Patrol.

Once again Walden slips into town without notifying constituents at large, has photo ops, delivers a Trumpian reiteration to The Observer and slithers away.

“Precisely the change Oregon needed out of Washington” also by Walden (The Observer, Jan. 29) is full of misleading statements centered around getting rid of government regulations, lowering taxes and shrinking government. Walden lauds Trump’s repeal and cancellation of regulations. Let’s think about regulations. Who do they benefit? Why are corporate Republicans so adamantly opposed to them?

Many regulations are meant to keep greed from destroying life on earth and protect the vulnerable. Corporate CEOs and large investors make far more money when not regulated and pollution continues unabated.

Pollution sickens or kills all life on earth. Poorer people are far more affected than the wealthy as unregulated capitalism ultimately leads to economic and social disparities now facing America.

Under-regulated timber harvests allowed the timber orgy of the 1970s and 80s. Now Oregon and Washington demand federal handouts to maintain schools. The federal government doesn’t owe Oregon or Washington money for lost timber income.

The onus is on us for felling trees at an unsustainable rate. Had adequate governmental regulation slowed the rate of timber felling, we would still have a thriving timber economy. To be truly sustainable, timber harvesting must be thoughtful and regulated. Yes, the under-regulated era gave the Northwest relatively short-term livable wages and a thriving local economy.

Meanwhile major timber companies profited hugely. Local wages were spent on daily living expenses. Meanwhile corporate profits were reinvested to make more and more profits.

Much accumulated wealth is allowed to pass down through generations. Walden supports the so called “death tax’ being raised to $11 million. So up to $11 million can be passed to the next generation without any inheritance tax. That pretty much guarantees very wealthy families will retain their advantages indefinitely. But is an infant born into wealth inherently any more worthy of advantages than one born into poverty? Equitable tax law would lean toward redistribution of wealth rather than increasing inequality as our tax laws do.

The token tax cuts and pay raises offered to the vast majority of Americans is nothing but a short-term diversion. The facts speak for themselves.

In 2019 the GOP tax revision will reward a $380 tax cut to filers with incomes between $25,600 and $48,600. Those with incomes over $732,800 will enjoy $51,140 reductions. Just eight years later, in 2027, individual tax cuts will have phased out for those earning $28,100 to $54,700 and be replaced by a $40 increase. But the lucky few earning over $912,000 will still enjoy a $20,660 tax cut (Washington Post, Jan. 3). Put another way, by 2027 the wealthiest 1 percent will be reaping 82 percent of the GOP tax benefits (Huffington Post, Dec. 18, 2017). The top three million people will be making one-fourth of the income produced by 320 million people.

Production requires resources, labor and capital as well as infrastructure. Resources taken from the land become privatized. Labor is frequently exploited.

Corporations depend heavily on tax-supported infrastructure. Much accumulated wealth is then invested overseas to avoid U.S. taxes.

Remember, tax cuts translate into cuts in social services and infrastructure. Taxes enable societies to function. It’s up to us to determine what everyone’s fair share should be and which expenditures most benefit society.

The tax cuts being proposed by Trump/Walden will further enrich corporations with lucrative Pentagon contracts but will have devastating effects in Walden’s 2nd Congressional District.

Voters need to elect politicians who realize government’s goal should be the creation of a just, equitable society in harmony at home and abroad. We have a very long way to go. First we must turn around.

A candidates’ forum for all candidates running for CD2 will be held March 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the La Grande Middle School Commons. Current CD2 representative, Greg Walden, has been invited to interact with those challenging his reelection.

This forum is an opportunity for voters to hear the priorities and strategies of each CD2 candidate and determine which would best represent us in Washington.