This responds to Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, on "Restoring the American dream through opportunity" Jan. 24 commentary in the Herald. While the objective is noble, our congressman proposes three main measures unlikely to promote it.
First, regarding "job training:" the Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills Act (H.R. 803), touted in the Buchanan piece, is not an answer. The SKILLS Act passed the House of Representatives last March by a vote of 215 to 202, with only two Democrats for and 14 Republicans against.
The bill has been widely criticized for putting at risk services for disadvantaged populations, including youth, older workers, women, persons with disabilities, farm workers and low-income workers. It has been opposed by the American Association of Retired Persons, National Education Association, National Coalition for Literacy, labor unions and a host of other groups.
Second, under the heading "simplify the tax code," Rep. Buchanan recommends "lowering corporate tax rates ... now the highest in the world." While statutory rates are at or near the top compared to other large industrial economies; however, effective rates are considerably lower. Moreover, nearly 55 percent of large U.S. corporations reported no federal tax liability in at least one recent year.
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In any event, many of us believe that the guiding principle should not be tax simplification, but rather tax fairness.
Third, the Congressman urges "legal reform" to "eliminate frivolous lawsuits." It is easy to understand why Rep. Buchanan, himself a defendant in multiple lawsuits, might feel this way. Nevertheless, the United States judicial system, whatever its flaws, remains one of the most just and fairest in the world.
So, how can one disagree with the pious objective of restoring or preserving the "American dream?" The devil is in the details.