Letters published Dec. 20, 2017

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Tax bill uses sleight of hand to double the deduction

I have generally been supportive of the Republican tax bill until I read the fine print on the “double the standard deduction” portion.

While this may help younger folks, what has not been mentioned is that while doubling the standard deduction to $24,000, they are eliminating the personal exemption of $4,050 plus the additional $1,250 for those over 65. Bottom line, a married couple over 65 who previously could claim, without itemizing, $6,350 X2 + $4,050 X2 + $1,250 X2 = $23,300 will now get a whopping extra $700 deduction without itemizing.

Of course, those under 65 will benefit an extra $2500 for a total of $3200. No one actually gets double the standard deduction since the personal exemption is gone.

So after a decade of low interest rates which penalize retirees who don’t want to risk everything in a stock market geared for traders and those investing in IRAs for retirement 30 years in the future, seniors in addition to seeing their savings provide little to no income will now get penalized again with virtually no benefit from the “huge” doubling of the standard deduction. If I have misinterpreted this, I look forward to being corrected; otherwise, I suppose I will just take it for what it is — the usual half truths and dishonesty of Washington and our politicians. —P. David Myerowitz, Columbia Falls

Is Troy Downing a Montanan or a Californian?

When did Troy Downing become an official voting resident of Montana?

Downing received a “homeowners tax exemption” on his house in California as recently as this year, suggesting his primary residence is California.

This calls into question his Montana residency.

How can Mr. Downing state that he “simply made a mistake”? Downing’s campaign manager says that “Troy’s primary residence is in Big Sky ... since 2009.”

If that’s the case, when did Downing obtain his Montana driver’s license?

Montana has had carpetbaggers who have declared their residency here to run for the U.S. Senate. The most recent example was Californian Bruce Vorhauer, who lost in a four-way race in the GOP primary in 1990.

However, Montana has elected residents to the U.S. Senate who were not born in Montana: Iowa-born John Melcher in the 1970s and Missouri-born Conrad Burns, elected in the 1980s. Mike Mansfield was born in New York.

Each took up residency and called Montana their primary home for years and decades.

Can Mr. Downing say the same?

Downing says that if you question his in-state hunting permits or his driver’s license, you’re “spreading fake news.”

Mr. Downing, Montanans are smarter than that! —Steve Armstrong, Bigfork

Country on the wrong track?

What is happening to my country?

There are ongoing events in the news these days that are extremely troubling.

Almost without exception, there is daily news of shootings, congressional members’ sexual exploits, presidential sophomoric tweets, and the inability of our Congress to work together in a non-partisan way to get things done.

Soon, Congress will be voting on another continuing resolution to defer a vote limit on the national debt to March 2018 which is just another example of “kicking the can down the road” and failing to come together as non-partisans to work out a solution. In addition, there are “stonewalling” efforts going on to prevent a debt ceiling increase.

To me, it makes no difference about political party affiliation when it comes to solving our country’s financial and social-economic problems. What REALLY matters is that we come together as a nation to solve problems and dispense with the rhetoric, partisanship and personal gain.

I am appealing to both political parties and the administration to restore sanity to governing and carefully listening to the American people.

For starters, I would:

—Vote out those members of Congress who have lost their moral compass and/or fail to live up to their obligations to the American voters.

—Conduct nationwide “Townhall” sessions emphasizing the importance of citizen involvement in their government and obtaining feedback from the electorate on their ideas for improving the country. Such townhall sessions would respect the opinions of others, absent of shout-downs and give consideration for any plausible ideas presented.

—Hold our president accountable for his personal behavior and responsibility as our nation’s leader to govern with dignity and wisdom.

—Close down the House Employment Council, which has used taxpayer funds to mitigate congressional members’ sexual exploitation or other bad behavior.

—Encourage our citizenry to run for public office and encourage those who aspire to the principles of governing that will have a positive impact for the future.

Failure to do nothing in our present situation is not an option for if we continue down our present path, the country will be but a mere reflection of better years gone by and a continued decline of what America is really all about! —Richard R. Dillon, Kalispell

Trump himself said his voters were ‘poorly educated’

As a logger, hunter, conservationist, and someone who thinks highly of most wildlife and resource professionals, I never thought I’d agree with Bill Baum on anything. But when a recent letter to the editor by Marty Boehm of Creston took offense that Mr. Baum called Trump voters “undereducated and uninformed,” for the most part I had to agree.

The funny part is Mr. Baum doesn’t get the credit for that statement, Donald Trump does. In a victory speech at the Nevada caucus in February 2016, The Donald said, and I quote, “We won with the poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

Sorry Mr. Boehm, but as another famous huckster once said, “There’s one born every minute.” —Tom Horelick, Libby

Time for Congress to police itself

To Sen. Tester, Sen. Daines, Congressman Gianforte:

Your fellow legislators who have used tax dollars to “pay off” members of the opposite sex whom they have sexually harassed or assaulted while holding public office (and by implication the public’s trust) are criminals. CRIMINALS!

Every one of them must be required to reimburse our government for the dollars they “stole” — plus interest — from we taxpayers. You and your peers must establish appropriate Senate/House rules to prevent future thefts of this nature. If you can’t accomplish this, DON’T run for re-election. —Frank S. Johnson, Kalispell

Just who got polled anyway?

The news media often says the “polls show” this or that. I would like to know how the persons that are polled are selected and by what means? Who does this “polling”? When and where does this polling occur? My husband and I are tax-paying, voting citizens of this great USA since we were of age, and neither of us have ever been polled. None of our many relatives, friends and neighbors have never been polled! Just asking! —Ann Egerter, Bigfork

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