First, Do No Harm, Dr. Harris by Katherine Maynard

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Congressman Andy Harris and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently visited my town of Chestertown.

Rep. Andy Harris

I suppose we should be grateful that Dr. Harris actually deigned to come to our neck of the woods. After all, he hasn’t held an in-person town hall since March, and he was silent during his October recess. But, alas, he did not come to talk to us.

Instead, according to his Twitter feed, Harris was using this opportunity to show Speaker Ryan “how we do business on the Eastern Shore” and, more importantly, to have a photo-op promoting the latest Republican tax scam.

Dr. Harris’ theory, like the one promoted by rest of the Republican Party, contends that enormous tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy will stimulate economic growth to help all of us.

This is a lie. We have seen income inequality balloon since the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan first touted this myth. Since then, the large gap between CEOs’ salaries and what their average worker takes home has increased exponentially.

In Maryland, these Harris-Ryan tax proposals give 62% of the tax breaks to millionaires—who make up only 0 .7% of the state’s population. That amounts to an average tax cut of $149,000 per millionaire (or 7.5% of their income). Meanwhile, the 37.7 % of Marylanders earning less that $45,000 a year would get a tiny tax cut of just $190 per year, or 0.8 percent of their income (Indivisible.org).

And if you think $190 is better than nothing, consider the Republican plan to gut Medicaid, Medicare, and student aid programs to pay for these massive tax breaks for the wealthy. This makes the rest of us even poorer by saddling families with medical bills and private student loans — just to survive. $190 won’t cover a doctor visit, let alone your child’s education.

Dr. Harris wants to use Chestertown as the poster child for his GOP budget plan. He obviously isn’t paying attention to us, because if he were, he would know that his vote for the GOP budget plan does great harm to both the Eastern Shore Medical Center and Washington College, the two largest employers in Kent County.

Harris’ budget vote guts Medicaid, which is only way that rural hospitals like ESMC can stay open. When people cannot afford health insurance, they use the hospital as their only means of getting health care.  Often, they cannot pay the hospital, whose debt rises, leading to increased costs to those who are insured. In other words, our hospital, already struggling, could go broke and close. Without it, people in Chestertown would be forced to drive 45 minutes or more to reach the nearest emergency room. People in more remote areas in Kent County would have to drive even further. Such a move will, quite literally, put our lives at risk.

Harris and the GOP’s budget would cut or eliminate many of the financial aid programs that enable students to attend college—including Washington College in Chestertown. 19% of Washington College’s students receive Pell Grants (on the chopping block) which make college affordable to low income families. Another 9% earn money through federal work study (to be cut nearly in half). Without this crucial aid, college will be simply out of reach for many.

What’s more, by putting these two employers at risk, Harris is draining Chestertown dry, just to give a huge cash bonus to corporations.

In a final irony, Dr. Harris, who claims to be a “fiscal conservative,” finds no problem voting for a budget that increases the deficit by trillions of dollars to pay for this so-called tax reform. It seems that he’s only tight-fisted when it comes to helping us. He voted against aid for Hurricane Harvey victims because it was “irresponsible”! And if you thought Dr. Harris would do better on aid that is desperately needed by his own constituents, you’d be wrong. In 2012, he voted against aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, denying help to his own constituents on the Eastern Shore. (And although he is a doctor, he also thinks spending on healthcare is irresponsible—at our expense: on Trumpcare/AHCA, he voted to take away coverage from roughly 900 people in Kent County.)

Dr. Harris, a doctor of medicine, once took the Hippocratic oath to “do no harm.” As a politician, he’s doing harm every day, voting against our interests at every turn.

 

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. James Reeves says:

    This piece of rhetoric has its basis in Bill Clinton’s first state-of-the union address where he introduced the concept of paying one’s fair share in taxes. No one has ever actually stated what a fair share actually is. Perhaps it is 17%? That is the percentage President Obama paid when he amassed over $1.7 million in income for that year. If that is a fair share, then I am all for it. Meanwhile, the duped masses are led to think that companies have to pay endless amount of taxes to distribute the income more fairly. I am sickened by the envy that is driving this country to socialism. And it is pure envy converted into hate and I am betting the person writing the original diatribe has a “No Place for Hate” sign in their yard. Fairness would truly be a flat tax where everyone pays the same percentage of their income to the government. Fairness is when people are paid for their contribution to the economy. Fairness is not when the government dictates salaries so that everyone feels good about making as much as their neighbor or some entity deciding what a minimum wage should be. The stock market started taking off in the late 70’s and that is when the wealthy became wealthier. Those of us who remember when tax brackets reached to the stratosphere searched for every possible deduction to reduce a tax bracket. When the rates were adjusted downward, most of those deductions went away. And then congress, led by the Democrats, started leaking dedeutions back into the equation. And spending like there was no tomorrow.

    • James Nick says:

      It’s odd that Mr Reeves has a crystal clear remembrance of the stratospheric tax brackets from the days of yore but seems to have conveniently forgotten that, much more recently, Bush II put both his Afghanistan and Iraq wars on the national credit card. According to a Congressional Budget Office report published in October 2007, those wars could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion when counting the huge interest costs (1).

      In 2003, the Republican congress enacted Medicare Part D into law. Bush II signed into law the largest expansion of the welfare state since the creation of Medicare in 1965. It too was unfunded. Ten years later, a Medicare Trustee’s Report projected that Medicare Part D would add $852 Billion to the national debt over 10 years (2). As a related aside, has anyone else noticed that all the sturm and drang being directed at Obamacare from the Right but only crickets when it comes to hole Medicare Part D is leaving us in? Strange, isn’t it?

      Now, by all accounts, the tax cuts, definitely not tax reform, being cued up by the Republicans are Bush II’s unfunded tax cuts all over again and will no doubt have the same budget-busting consequences. It’s another Grover Norquist- and Koch brothers-engineered toxic dump of recycled voodoo economics and tax cuts for the rich. Lest we forget, the Bush II tax cuts along with all the free money Alan Greenspan pumped into the economy, together, depleted government revenues and created the housing boom that set the table for the Great Recession of 2008. A recession that forced Bush II to request another, yes, unfunded, $700 Billion for a bailout of Wall Street (anyone remember TARP – Troubled Asset Relief Program)?

      Sorry, but Republicans long ago drove a stake through the myth that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and free enterprise. Never again can they dare lecture anyone about tax policy. They have no standing. So maybe Mr Reeves would like to try again and explain how the Democrats are the tax and spend (like there’s no tomorrow) party. But this time without any bizarre extrapolations that somehow go from tax fairness to socialism to envy to hate.

      (1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_cost_of_the_Iraq_War
      (2) https://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/medicare-part-d-republican-budget-busting/?_r=0

      • Darren McPopper says:

        Thank you, James Nick, for the most (the first?) footnoted internet comment I have ever seen. Bravo! Republicans casting themselves as the fiscally responsible party is the height of delusion.

    • Michael McDowell says:

      The myth that Americans, individuals, and corporations are the highest taxed in the world is just that, a myth. Check any OECD analysis. The tax breaks which corporations get particularly reduces the tax massively. Kitty Maynard’s piece reflects reality and the unfairness of zealots like Harris who lie about evidence as does his mate Ryan whose BA from Miami of Ohio does NOT make him an economic expert. He’s all smoke and mirrors.

  2. Michael Johnson says:

    Thank you for speaking truth to power . In a society that has lost regard for facts, honesty and equality it is sadly a rare treat .

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