Friday, 19 November 2010 00:00
The President’s Bi-Partisan Commission has given us a preview of its soon to be released report on the national debt calling for reductions in spending and taxes. It is a step in the right direction but belt tightening must also begin statewide and locally. Increasing the age for Social Security benefits, reductions in military spending and an end to bail out monies will start the clock. But in addition, statewide, we need to consolidate government, reduce the government work force without reducing key services and expand the work week to six days while at the same time expand both the number of school days and the in-school hours each day in order to compete with students in Asia and elsewhere. Illegal immigrants must be identified and given a path to citizenship. They need to be assimilated and pay income and other taxes. There are approximately 15 million immigrants living and working in this country but in an underground economy where taxes are not paid. We need to develop affordable housing so that people no longer have to reside in dangerous conditions.
I have lived in a modest home in Nassau County for more than 30 years. I pay town, school and village taxes plus additional fees to a water district. I am an attorney and I have been a part-time Village Justice for nearly 20 years. While I appreciate what is referred to as “Home Rule,” I question the cost and the need for it. While consolidation is a controversial and unpopular subject particularly among government employees it is a subject that must be faced now. In Nassau alone we have three towns; two cities; 62 villages; a county executive, a county legislature and a vast number of school, water, fire and even sanitation districts. We also have two congressmen and one congresswoman; two U.S. senators and a state government consisting of a governor; attorney general; comptroller; assembly persons, state senators and a vast bureaucracy of agencies and departments at both the federal and state level. Each year the federal and state government comprises a larger proportion of the Gross National Product defined as the total sum of goods and services produced in a given year in dollar value. The problem with reliance on too much government is that it does not add to corporate capital improvements or investments that will ultimately add to the Gross National Product by the private sector. The maintenance and administration of staggering pension funds in the government sector is an expense that must be considered. The investments of those funds, borrowing against them and their payout must be projected with the current work force and one that is either expanded or reduced. There should be a freeze on all government jobs, salary increases and pension benefits for three to five years.
Payroll taxes are creating more unemployment because business cannot afford to pay them. They also cannot afford to pay the cost of health insurance. There needs to be a moratorium on payroll taxes and substantial reductions in interest and penalties.
Credit reporting agencies must be more closely scrutinized in terms of what they can report and the rights of consumers to contest those reports must be expanded. Credit card companies should not be permitted to charge usurious interest rates and should not be permitted to charge off debts which are the by-product of excessive interest rates and where they then issue 1099 forms to consumers who then are obligated to pay taxes on an alleged benefit which they never received.
Taxes are destroying the middle class in this country because we have not bitten the bullet of consolidation. Employers in New York’s suburbs must now pay an MTA tax even though our employees do not use the bus or railroad services. Taxation without representation has become an unconstitutional and unacceptable part of our government. The last election has told us many things but the role of government on all levels must be carefully reviewed.
Thomas F. Liotti
Attorney, Westbury Village Justice