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Business Meal Deductions

July 15, 1993

* In the article about President Clinton's proposed reduction in the business meal deduction ("Food Fight Erupts Over Possible Cut in Business Meal Deduction," July 7), Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan shows an appreciation for the struggles of small business that is rare in Washington. We in the restaurant industry hope that California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer will break their silence on this issue and do the same.

As any of the 780,000 people who work in the food service industry in California can tell you, the business meal is not a toy of the wealthy, but a tool used by many business people primarily from the middle class. These people are often the self-employed, who use restaurants as a venue to meet with clients. (Even if the business meal deduction is cut, true perks such as plush office decor and rented limousines would remain fully deductible.) The average per-person business lunch check is under $10, yet the restaurant industry is the second-largest contributor of sales tax revenues to California's budget.

Clearly, the restaurant business is one of our state's most important employers. The proposed reduction in the business meal deduction could cost 22,711 restaurant jobs in California, more than 10,000 in Southern California alone. These workers are primarily women and minorities. It could also mean the loss of $517 million in restaurant sales--along with the sales tax revenues our state depends upon.

ELIZABETH BURNS, President

Bob Burns Restaurants, Santa Monica

Calif. Restaurant Assn. 1992-93 President

* Moynihan's opposition to cutting business entertainment write-offs from 80% to 50% is, to put it kindly, absurd. Close restaurants? Put low-wage earners out of work? Puhleeze. Who could possibly believe power schmoozers would stop eating expensive food because of a lousy 30% decrease in deductibility?

Federally subsidized business lunches are a sick joke to begin with. But what if studio execs did start eating at commissaries and corner diners? Now you're talking help for low-wage workers and single-mother families!

I'd like to know: Who's been buying Moynihan his lunch?

TOBI DRAGERT

Tarzana

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