Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thomas Pluck's Voice

Hi, Mitt.

I'm writing because a lot of my friends and co-workers have deluded themselves into voting for you. In the middle class, it's common to begin voting Republican once you buy a house, even though you want to repeal the mortgage deduction from Federal income taxes. You convince us to vote against our interests because we like to think that like you, we played by the rules, and we want to stick it to folks we think are getting an easy ride. And it's easy to think that because we worked hard, that we didn't have any help. Just ask Craig T. Nelson, the guy from Coach, when he says he was on Food Stamps, but "nobody helped him."

I know who helped me. I was the first kid to go to college on my mother's side of the family. Her grandfather came over from Italy and worked hard, built houses. He made the paper when he proudly became a citizen at the age of 87. His daughter, my grandmother, needed government help when my grandfather was injured in a crash at an automobile race. No unemployment insurance then. They had "Relief," as it was called. And it fed my mother and two uncles while grandpa's leg healed, and they all went on to become productive citizens and taxpayers.

My parents were blue collar and instilled a strong work ethic in me, but by the time I went to college, they had divorced. For some years, I know my mother was part of the 47% because the tax deduction for children gave her a refund. My parents couldn't afford to help me pay for college. I applied for scholarships and got one, but I also received a tuition aid grant which paid for about half of my schooling. I worked for the rest of it, and now I am a tech professional who pays over twice your tax rate, and doesn't mind one bit. My children won't need tuition aid grants, but I don't mind paying taxes for students who do. I know the investment in education pays America back with plenty to spare.

I've heard you and Paul Ryan say that kids whose parents can't afford college shouldn't go to college, but that's not what built America's strong middle class. I'm sure it would ensure your family becomes a dynasty, if your 13% tax rate dipped into single digits, but even Reagan proudly paid over 30% in taxes when he was President. It's paying the country back. I pay back for my college assistance when I pay taxes, and when I donate time and money to several charities like Jersey Cares and local food banks. The 47% pay plenty in sales taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, state income taxes and all the hidden taxes labeled as fees that don't amount to a drop in the bucket for someone like me, or you in the highest tax bracket. They aren't leeches or parasites. Reagan knew that when he pushed for the Earned Income Tax Credit. If he knew his views on taxes would make you and your fellows feel entitled to pay a lower percentage in taxes than people in poverty, I bet Ronnie would have had something to say about patriotism and paying your fair share. 

The 47% are people that, unlike you, work because they have to. They are people who've worked all their lives and are trying to eke through retirement now that pension funds have been replaced with 401ks and we're expected to invest as wisely as informed stock traders. They are children trying to save enough for college. They are veterans who came home unwhole trying to live on SSI. They are Americans, and the President should worry about them. Which is why even though President Obama is not my perfect President, I will vote for him or anyone but you come November. 

Thomas Pluck 

Thomas Pluck writes unflinching fiction with heart.