It is getting to be dangerous to read the newspaper. I don’t even want to contemplate what happened to my blood pressure when I read the headline in the ”’Honolulu Advertiser”’ last Friday morning, “Senate Committee OKs Long-Term-Care Tax Plan.”

See http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Mar/28/ln/ln02a.html

What is the matter with these people? What part of “We elected a Republican governor because she said she would reduce government and not raise taxes,” don’t they understand?

American taxpayers already pay more in taxes than food, clothing and shelter combined. Not only does Hawaii have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, we also pay roughly 30 percent more for everyday commodities because of the outmoded Jones Act and exorbitant shipping costs required to pay members of the longshoremen union members’ top-rate, full-time pay for a half day’s work.

Now in addition to all that, Hawaii Democrats want to saddle each of us, those who work anyway, with another tax that is classic socialist boondoggle. They want to take from those who earn it, to give to those these politicians deem need it. “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need,” said Karl Marx, father of Communism. And this is exactly what they propose.

The long-term care tax is probably the most unfair tax proposal currently under consideration. Since it requires the identical amount from all workers, it is the most regressive tax possible. It will hurt the working poor the most. In fact, it is this utter disregard for what this will mean to the poorest among us that makes it so cynical. The proposal is political pandering at its very worst, completely ignoring the economic damage it will do to the average working stiff, which is supposed to be their core constituency. What contempt these politicians must have for the very voters who elected them.

What’s more, this proposal is self perpetuating because it robs those poorest among us of the ability to save the very funds that would go toward saving for retirement care.

Money that would be better invested by individuals to provide for eventual long-term care is taken by the state for this redistribution scheme. These people are almost guaranteed to rely upon the state when their time comes.

The worst thing about this proposal is that it is a trick. The $70 a day it would provide would not cover even half of such care at today’s costs. Since it takes 10 years to become vested who knows what the prices will be when the program actually begins? Even with the projected increase in the payout, it can never be more than a faction of the total. Thus it is really no benefit at all, it is a meager supplemental.

Calling it “long-term-care” is plainly dishonest because the plan is only for a single year while the average stay currently is over two years. But there is more to this plan than just long-term care.

The real danger is the state legislators will simply be unable to keep their grubby paws off this growing pool of money. Look at the recent battles over raiding the state’s Hurricane Relief Fund and multiply that by a thousand. The money collected will simply be too attractive for our free spending leftist representatives to view without scheming where to spend it elsewhere. It is perfectly analogous to the growing Social Security, “trust fund,” crisis. This, “long-term-care,” program will inevitably suffer the same fate. It simply won’t be solvent by the time it is needed.

It is also perfectly analogous to the city’s problem with the Sewage Treatment funds. That money too has already been allocated to and spent by the general fund. On every level, government proves it cannot resist the temptation such funds present. There is every reason to think the Legislature at some point will allocate this money to the general fund.

That is why this proposal is so offensive. It is a shell game. It is a disguised tax increase, period. The Democratic majority, stymied in its efforts to figure out how to get more money, is pandering to the fears of the populace concerning nursing care costs to get around this problem. It is the driven by the liberal’s incessant quest to ever increase taxes and expand government.

The other dirty little secret about this proposal is that it actually intends to rob some people. It is an accepted fact that many people move to Hawaii, enjoy it for a few years, and then return to the mainland or elsewhere. They never intend to stay for the rest of their lives, although some find they cannot make themselves leave, and are just content with their Hawaiian memories.

This proposal seeks to tax these people, and never give any return in service for the taxes collected. It literally depends upon a major portion of those who pay in to the fund for a length of time leaving the islands never to avail themselves of the program. In fact, this program actually seeks to drive people from Hawaii by making it yet more difficult and expensive to live here.

In the final analysis this program will never be implemented, at some point it will die or be repealed.

First, Gov. Linda Lingle will most certainly veto it. Should the Democrats be so shortsighted as to override the veto, the program itself will be its own undoing. When people actually begin to feel the effects of this tax upon their lives, on top of all the other pending tax increases, their frustration and anger will increase. This will have political effects.

It is clear from the last two election cycles that this state, along with the rest of the nation, is moving towards the right. The Democratic majority in the Legislature is ignoring this fact to its detriment. Tax increases such as this, “long-term-care,” boondoggle are only going to further inspire this shift away from the left. In a way, I hope they do override what will most certainly be a governor’s veto, (she better) since this will only serve to anger the people more.

There is a growing frustration with left wing ideas and causes. This can be seen by the increasing number of, “Pro-America” rallies in opposition to the anti-America ones.

The local newspapers failed to note the Pro-America rallies on Saturday were larger than the previous anti-America rallies on the islands so far.

And this mood is growing.

Die hard leftist legislators are completely out of touch with the 80 percent of everyday Americans who support our troops and this war.

Just as they are out of touch with the feelings of the majority about increasing taxes.

They will discover just how wrong they are at the next election where that growing anger will translate into more Republican votes.

”’Don Newman is a free-lance writer living in Honolulu. He can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:newmand001@hawaii.rr.com

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