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Letters to the editor: A massive give-away to the rich; Broadband funding source untouched

A massive give-away to the rich

TO THE EDITOR

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the GOP tax "reform" bill in its House and Senate versions is basically a massive give-away to the richest Americans at the expense of everyone else.

Impervious to the warnings voiced by hundreds of economists, educators, health care professionals, and advocates for children and the poor, the Republican-controlled Congress appears hell-bent on ramming through a bill of potentially disastrous consequences that most of our representatives and senators will not even have read.

This is bad enough in itself, but even worse is the calculating animosity driving it. Stephen Moore of the conservative Heritage Foundation, President Trump's economic advisor, has approvingly called the tax bill "death to Democrats." Its provisions are intentionally designed to hurt more liberal areas of the country.

Moore says the tax cuts "go after state and local taxes, which weakens public employee unions. They go after university endowments, and universities have become play pens of the left. And getting rid of the mandate is to eventually dismantle Obamacare."

I would like to know when we stopped being "one nation indivisible" and when it became OK for one party to collectively punish the constituency that didn't vote for it. Under the 1949 Geneva Convention, collective punishment of an enemy is a war crime. How is the GOP's collective punishment of Democratic constituencies not a war crime against the American people?

In his Second Inaugural Address, an earlier Republican President spoke of "binding up the nation's wounds, with malice toward none, with charity for all." Our current President instead appears dedicated to tearing our wounded country apart.

GOP, the season of traditional "good will" and generosity toward others is upon us. Look into your hearts. Is this cruel new America the country you want and claim to love?

Thomas R. Smith

River Falls

Another funding source for broadband untouched

TO THE EDITOR

I took it upon myself to do a little research relating to telecommunications taxation in Wisconsin. The best place to start was the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. One thing I knew for certain is on my Internet Service Provider (ISP) monthly bill is a Universal Service Fund tax from the state. While this tax is mandated from the state for telecom service providers, they are allowed to charge back this tax on their monthly bills to us. It reminds me of the old saying; "Corporations don't pay taxes, people do."

Calls to the DOR lead me to numerous call transfers, emails, and playing "telephone tag" for information. I wanted to know the process for local assessment and state assessment. All of this is intertwined with my support of Dunn County's commitment to better broadband service for its rural citizens. When it comes to broadband in the rural areas of this state, we are second class citizens.

Did you know that telecom/telephone taxes at the state level go into the general fund? Those of you not familiar with accounting term, it's called General Purpose Revenue (GPR) This means that the state can use this funding for whatever is needed and it is not dedicated to any one purpose. The amount for Fiscal Year 2016 for the telephone companies/ISPs was $76.5 million! I asked the DOR person why is this money going into a general fund when it is known that broadband service in the rural areas of this state is a huge problem and what is needed to change the current policy.

While the State Broadband Office supplies grants through the Public Service Commission (PSC) and works with telecommunications vendors operating in this state, the funding level doesn't meet the need. The solution seems simple enough. The rural areas of this state need to contact their elected officials they sent to Madison and tell them to create a bill addressing this situation. These general fund dollars need to go to a segregated fund dedicated to the state's broadband problem. Some of our current elected officials we sent to Madison are up for reelection in 2018 and some of them stated that broadband was a key part of their platform when they ran for office in 2016.

Terry Nichols

Town of Colfax, Dunn County