Letter: Tax plan shows GOP's indifference to Main St.

To the Editor:

Jim Therrien's piece on new challenges facing Bennington's Putnam Block project ("Putnam Block developers worried about GOP tax bill," Nov. 30), brings home a painful fact: The cabal of corporate minions and profiteers that defines today's Republican Party could not care less about Main Street.

Tax credits are critical to the project, representing about 46 percent of the financing for phase I. Uncertainty about their continued availability has already placed the groundbreaking on hold, Therrien says. What happens next conceivably could shut down a $53 million investment in the future of Bennington.

Think about that, local Trump voters, as you examine the bullet in your foot. The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is among the most successful, socially beneficial incentives this tax legislation has aimed to trash. Implemented by the Reagan administration, that program has been key to revitalizing urban centers and towns. It's helped bring back devastated Rust Belt cities, broadened tax bases, stimulated small-business growth... all while reportedly returning $1.20-$1.25 to the treasury for every dollar invested. It's credited with creating 2.4 million jobs and leveraging $131.8 billion in private investment in communities—with 100 percent of the risk assumed by investors. Not to mention saving more than 42,000 threatened structures--234 in Vermont, alone, from 2002-2016--preserving our historic architectural legacy.

Why get rid of the HTC? Because of the obvious advantages to crass commercial developers like Trump himself, who would raze the White House and stick another hideous Trump Tower in its place if he could? The HTC may or may not survive the House/Senate reconciliation sessions following passage of the Senate's largely unexamined, fly-by-night, pork-fest of a bill—which will explode the federal deficit by at least $1.4 trillion, by conservative estimates.

Even if the HTC does survive, the GOP tax bill could still indirectly hobble the Putnam project. Project leaders include Bennington College, Southern Vermont College and Southwestern Vermont Health Care. All those institutions stand to be hurt by elimination of student-loan and health-care deductions, and crucial features of the ACA, hampering their ability to move forward on important community projects.

Let's hope the Putnam Block project can withstand the challenges ahead. As for the bigger picture, when the obscene deficit created by this tax bill comes home to roost, the GOP will get what it wanted all along: gutting Medicare and Social Security, just to cover the interest on our debt.

Robin Vaughan Kolderie

Hoosick, N.Y.


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