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Taxing the Middle Class in Order to Take On Baghdad

September 25, 2002

John Balzar explains to us how President Bush's tax cuts are "a dirty deal for the middle class" (Commentary, Sept. 22). The repeal of the alternative minimum tax was taken off the table in Congress by the Democrats. The AMT was never favored by Republicans, and that includes Bush.

To his credit, Balzar did not repeat the Democrats' mantra about the new rates representing just "tax cuts for the rich." In fact, the rich will pay a greater share of the federal income taxes after the cuts become effective.

H. R. Richner

Costa Mesa

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A popular question among TV talking heads these days is how we are supposed to pay for the proposed war on Iraq. Allow me to commend Balzar's commentary to the curious. The answer is clear. This war will be charged to the middle class. Balzar predicts that the way the bill will come due is thanks to the alternative minimum tax, a formula that subtracts certain deductions, resulting in higher taxes for people earning between $75,000 and $500,000.

The AMT was, ironically, enacted to make sure those in the highest income brackets paid their share, but since half a million--to say nothing of 75 grand--is scarcely the upper-class income it was in 1969, the burden of paying the AMT has now shifted to the middle brackets, while those in the true upper reaches will see their taxes decrease. How much will the AMT funnel into the Treasury? A handy $141 billion over the next several years. That should pay for a lot of smart bombs.

Joan Walston

Santa Monica

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