Your Opinion: Fair Tax #4

Dear Editor:

I welcome Marigene Brewer’s April 10 letter to the editor about my article on the Fair Tax proposal which was published in April’s Active Times.

The article covered remarks by Amy Blouin, executive director of the Missouri Budget Project (MBP), who was guest speaker at our AARP chapter’s March meeting. As a contributor to Active Times, my primary responsibility is to cover the speaker presentations at our meetings and offer them as articles for seniors and other readers of Active Times.

In my April article, facts and statements critical of the Fair Tax proposal are not my own, as your letter asserts, but rather those of the presenter. This includes the specific comment on the issue of once a month prebate checks to households statewide, for which my article quotes Blouin, not myself, as saying “the administrative costs of that alone, I can’t even imagine.” All comments were clearly identified, either by direct quotation marks or attribution, as her statements or those from MBP staff research. With that said, I join our chapter members in thanking Ms. Blouin again for an excellent and informative presentation on this controversial subject.

By adhering to what the speaker said, there was no concerted attempt on my part to bias the story to support AARP lobbying interests, as your letter contends. I did limit the article to how the Fair Tax might impact most seniors.

Also, due to scheduling constraints, our March 10 program structure was not a panel debate, but rather our usual single guest speaker format. This may have contributed to your criticism that I “failed to give the entire picture.” However, my article appropriately identified the speaker as an independent budget analyst who directs the MBP. Its mission is to analyze state fiscal policies and present the results to help citizens make informed choices on those issues. Regardless of the topic at our open monthly meetings, speakers from the community are never asked or expected to advocate any agenda for AARP.

After her prepared talk, an audience member asked Blouin if she could identify any positive aspects of the Fair Tax proposal. Her response was only that the various ballot measures and legislative proposals would serve to spark an ongoing dialogue about what path Missouri should take in the quest to generate better funding sources for future state budgets and government services. Remedies then discussed included an overhaul of the state’s archaic 1930s income tax system; increasing Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax as a part of the solution; or replacing the income and corporate tax with a vastly expanded sales tax (the Fair Tax) now being debated.

Brewer’s April 10 letter and hopefully others to follow will help focus needed attention on the Fair Tax proposal, which may well land on November 2012 ballot.

The Jefferson City AARP chapter is pleased to play a role in encouraging that dialog within our local community.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to editor@newstribune.com

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