Letter to the editor: Payroll tax for family leave is regressive, unfair

I was born and raised in Manhattan. My family lived in a housing project on the lower east side.
My parents were able to get our apartment due to my father’s status as a returning veteran.
The tradition that was strongest in our home was political and social awareness and activism.
We marched, walked picket lines, went to Washington D.C. As a grade schooler I wrote to President Eisenhower. My parents were Democrats. My brother and I once went to a Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. But the Democratic Party, both in Washington, D.C., and Montpelier, Vt., has forgotten its base and that is why I write this letter.
When addressing the need for more money for fuel assistance, Montpelier chose to increase the state tax on this essential commodity. A proposal to increase the income tax on the wealthy of Vermont to meet the need for these funds was rejected. Now there is legislation to provide paid family leave. Will employers and the wealthy of Vermont be required to contribute? In a word, no. The wage earners of our state will fund this program with mandatory payroll contributions. So essentially the workers, lower and middle class paycheck people will pay for these programs.
Do not misunderstand me, both fuel assistance and paid family leave are absolutely progressive, desperately needed programs. But they are being funded by the very people who need them, by people who live paycheck to paycheck, by people who anxiously monitor their thermostats and struggle to find childcare so they can keep their jobs. Need to fund a program? Well, just increase taxes on working people. No imagination needed.
The middle class continues to bear the burdens of the poor and themselves. This is what Congress has been doing for decades, Republicans and Democrats alike.
The Speaker of the House in Montpelier is Democrat Mitzi Johnson. She states repeatedly that wealthy Vermonters cannot shoulder higher income taxes because “Vermont must remain competitive.” This is the Democratic Party dubbed Republican Lite during the campaign of Howard Dean and Lite it is. This is the Democratic Party that bears much responsibility for the turmoil we now have in our nation.  This is, over and over, regressive taxation and it is a disgrace nationally and here in Vermont.
Catherine Braun

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