Sunday, September 18, 2011

59. Tax Breaks

Someone scheduled a lecture downtown by a conservative tax policy expert. I recently expanded my interests to include multiple viewpoints, so off I went. I arrived early and procured a good seat on the front row.

As the crowd arrived, a tall, heavy-set woman sat beside me. She was attractive, though overweight, and responded to my nod with a sweet “How are you today?”

“Well,” I answered, noticing that her attire seemed dated and worn, but neatly arranged.

She leaned over and asked in an almost-whisper, “Will there be a question and answer period, do you think, Big Dope?”

“C.W,” I said, “What the hell are you doing?”

“Waiting for the lecture to begin. What are you doing?” She smiled and leaned back in her seat.

“Please tell me you are not going to cause a scene.”

She simply smiled and nodded that the program was about to begin.

The speaker was engaging, if predictable. He was middle-aged and looked scholarly. He wore designer eyeglasses and sported an elaborate comb-over that originated near the top of one ear and slid fore and aft as the talked.

He spoke quickly, without notes and with only a few charts for emphasis. America’s economic problems exist because of taxes and regulations. He added no real support, only his expert opinion. I drifted off into thoughts of Herbert Hoover until I realized we were in the question and answer period.

Before I could stop him/her, C.W. popped up without even being recognized.

“I’m a mother of three,” she said. “My husband ran away a year ago with his secretary and hasn’t paid a child-support payment in two months.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the speaker began, but she cut him off.

“I receive some support through the “Aid to Families With Dependent Children,” she said.”

“I’m glad that program is there to support you,” the speaker began.

“And I’m called a ‘Welfare Slut.” The tone was becoming belligerent.

“That’s unfortunate,” the speaker said. “Are there other questions?”

She wouldn’t be stopped. She grabbed my shoulder and yelled. “And this character gets a welfare payment every time he makes a mortgage payment but they call it ‘Enlightened Tax Policy.’ Why?”

The speaker leaned forward. “Are you talking about the mortgage-interest tax deduction?”

“I’m talking about a welfare payment to homeowners but not renters,” he yelled.

As George W. Bush would say:
 "Those people need to pull themselves
 up by their own bootstraps like I did.
The speaker waived for her to calm down. “You can’t compare the two,” he said. “People getting an interest deduction on their mortgage payments spend the money to purchase supplies and labor for home repairs and construction. That money promotes economic development.”

“And the money I spend on my kids’ school clothes doesn’t? She was screaming now and I protested loudly as she pulled me to my feet.

As we stood outside the door where the security guard deposited us, I trembled with fury.

“You just had to do it, didn’t you?”

“Never mind. You stay right here. “I’m going to change into an Enron executive.”

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