Maine Republican Party
For Immediate Release, August 31, 2012
Contact: David Sorensen, Communications Director
Phone: (207) 622-6247
Rep. Berry Launches Pathetic Attack on Tax Plan He Voted For
Short memory and omitted facts mark personal war in the editorial pages
"Rep. Seth Berry is being dishonest and hypocritical," said Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen. "He has lied by omission and conveniently ignored his own policies of just a few years ago."
In a series of guest editorials to newspapers all over Maine this summer, Rep. Berry has been relentlessly attacking the biennial budget that he voted for. "It is understandable that there may be some things in the budget he doesn't like - no legislator is completely happy with every budget they vote for," continued Sorensen. "But the level of vitriol Berry has spewed about the tax cuts in the budget makes me wonder why he voted for them."
Berry has asserted repeatedly in his columns that the recent tax cuts passed under Republican leadership benefit the rich while everyone else loses, in one calling the tax reform "the largest tax shift in Maine history."
Berry knows that this is not true. He serves on the taxation committee. He knows that the share of income taxes paid by the top 10 percent will actually increase from 55 to 57 percent of total income taxes collected. He knows that the 80 percent of income tax payers in the low- and middle-income brackets pay only 24 percent of income taxes, but will receive 33 percent of the tax cuts, almost half again more than their "fair share."
But the truth doesn't matter to Berry. What matters is winning the election and gaining back the majority. He was the House Majority Whip two years ago, and now he is just a rank and file member of the minority party.
---> He has also been taking this fight to his fellow legislators, with whom he should be working across the aisle. He recently called the author of a column that rebuts one of his own to express surprise and anger that his Republican colleague would dare to respond. These intimidation tactics are unacceptable.
It also doesn't matter to Berry that the 2009 Democratic tax "reform" that he championed fits the mold of his own criticism. Berry specifically writes in one of his columns that those making over $350,000 per year will receive a $3,000 tax cut as a result of the GOP plan.
----> LD 1495, the bill that Berry fanatically defended and that was repealed by a people's veto in 2010, reduced income taxes by twice as much - $6,238 - for the very same group. He "paid for" this by jacking up sales taxes on everything from car repairs to dog grooming to nursing home meals. Republicans paid for theirs by cutting spending. Republicans passed real tax relief.
Berry says he wants to "put partisanship aside" in 2013. That's funny. Republicans built a bipartisan consensus for their plan, while Berry crafted his failed 2009 tax plan without Republican input and rammed it through without bipartisan support.
"The people of Maine rejected Rep. Berry's tax plan decisively at the polls in 2010," continued Sorensen. "It is pathetic for him to run around the state attacking the Republican plan that he voted for, and that Maine people kept in place."
Paid for and authorized by the Maine Republican Party. Not authorized by any Candidate or Candidate's Committee.
Maine Republican Party | Ben Lombard, Treasurer | 9 Higgins St. | Augusta | ME | 04330
Reed tells me he was blocked from posting on these pages some time ago.
From Robert Reed:
Rep. Berry cherry picked every tax in Maine and decided which were the worst offenders and used ONLY those to come up with a ludicrous argument that cannot hold water.
He agrees there are no income taxes for this person, but says property taxes are at fault due to recent legislation...and he even admits he included circuit breaker money...and yet someone earning $12K a year pays $2,040 in taxes? If you earn $1,000 a month you qualify for Section 8 housing subsidy which caps your rent cost at 30% or $300 a month. Pretending this mythical person.llives in Lewiston she might have total rent of anywhere from $600 to $1000 for a 2 bedroom place, Meaning at least half the rent is paid by OPM (Other peoples money). So assume a multi unit building, property taxes divided by total units, square footage per unit or something else and then remove the rent paid by OPM, you have at best her share being extremely small of the entire tax bill. 3 units, her share 33%, less at least half paid OPM, her share is no more than 16% of the total tax bill for the building. ON a $150K building in Lewiston you would pay $2800 in property taxes, thus she is looking at roughly $440 in her true out of pocket share of the property taxes.
Now on to other taxes, go back to the $12,000 a year, reduce by $600 FICA tax. Then reduce by the $3000 we already assumed she MUST pay in her share of rent. She likely qualifies for food stamps which requires she spend a specific amount no food (non-taxable) of roughly $2,400. So we're left with $6,000, and of the original $2040 in tax (17%) she only used $450 leaving $1600 taxed on the remaining $6K, or roughly 26.7% tax to meet his number....now can anyone tell me which taxes in Maine are at 26.7%...yeah thats what I thought...
Feel free to poke holes in my logic, I'm always willing to learn! Now excuse me while I'm out campaigning for the evening, its clear we need smarter representation in Augusta!
Robert Reed wrote:
It gets better....Rep Berry specifically indicated a single parent earning $12,000 annually at minimum wage...seemed unusual until you do the research...thats 30.25 hours per week....anyone want to guess what the requirement maximum hours worked for a TANF recipient is.....ahh yes, wait for it.....130 hours per month max....so not only does our person get the benefits outlined above, they just qualified for 5 years of TANF....so additional income supplement (tax free) of $463, month, free child care, dental care above the Mainecare base they already receive, , 30 cents a mile reimbursment for work or school, , $500a year in car repairs, $300 a year towards car insurance, $200 a year towards glasses or contacts, $750 a year towards school books and $300 a year towards clothing...That alone more than doubles the base income, all tax free and then we add on the Earned Income Tax Credits (for taxes paid by others).....
Thank you, Robert Reed. It's unfortunate when the people making our legislation and policy appear to be uninformed about taxes and the matters on which they deliberate.
In addition to the EIC and the Child Tax Credit, the fictional single mother in Reed's example would also be eligible for the State Circuit Breaker, which gives up to $1,600 for property tax paid above 4% of income. It also gives a rebate for rent paid that exceeds 20% of income, again, up to $1,600.
So, in reality, our fictional single parent making $12K per year is receiving more tax money than she's paying out - even with the need to pay property tax, sales tax or excise tax.
Nobody's saying that our fictional working mother is living a luxury lifestyle, by any means. However, she's also not paying more taxes than a "rich person." Facts do matter.
Berry needs a remedial math and tax class. Maybe one of his pals at the MECEP can oblige.
If you knew anything about state law, you'd know they have an obligation to respond. It doesn't matter whether they "like" the question, or not. As a taxpayer, I have the right to ask a legitimate question about their proposal to spend up to $60 million tax dollars based on a feel-good catchphrase.
As an elected board, they have an obligation to base their decisions and spending proposals on real, factual criteria. They have an obligation to respond to the folks who pay the bills, when those folks ask legitimate questions on spending proposals.
If you're content to simply hand over your wallet because your elected officials just "say so," go right ahead.
From the article above:
"School Superintendent Tom Morrill said the budget is necessary to transform Auburn's education system into a modern one using 21st century technology and using 21st century ideas."
This "21st century" term is the same meaningless phrase we're hearing from our own school board (RSU 21), in support of massive new spending. I wrote to our school board, and asked for a definition of the term "21st century," and some independent criteria proving our schools didn't already meet that standard (whatever that 'standard' might be).
The reason being, they don't have any independent criteria, because it's not a real standard - it's nothing but a catch-phrase. The real meaning is "We want more money, and this sounds good, so we'll keep saying it until you hand over the big bonding."
Our schools already have every techie gadget and gizmo and program known to God and Apple. We have virtual learning, laptops, computer labs, Smart Boards, pottery kilns and foreign language programs for kindergartners, and everything else you could imagine.
Regardless, the push for more new spending just keeps coming. It's time for our school districts to recognize that the fiscal well is dry, and make do with what they already have.
With regard to the Middle School grade-combination issue - how did we all survive back when kids attended one school, or two at the most? Why the modern "need" to separate children by age?
Our district only had two schools - elementary/middle and high school. I don't recall any big problems with older children.
Perhaps the "problem" is really one of perception, and isn't all that real.
Dan Breton - I'm not sure how you conclude that the "only politics" involved in the MTA situation is Republican. First, the OPEGA investigation started during the Baldacci administration. It's just now reaching the hearing stage, but it started at least a year ago, if not longer.
Second, I take umbrage at your suggestion that Republican displeasure over the misuse and sloppy management at the MTA is somehow due to a lack of "gravy train." What a load of codswallop.
Any state or quasi-state agency that throws away public money on giant dog photos, gift cards with no disbursement records, employee meals, cocktails, fancy hotel rooms, and lobbyists should find their actions condemned by any and all reasonable Mainers.
Asking for accountability and efficiency from Maine's government is not partisan, and it's very long overdue.