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For the week of March 7 through 13, 2001

Nailing the poor

To Republican state Rep. Frank Bruneel, Idahoís 5 percent sales tax on food is the Great Equalizer. It imposes a burden on everyone, rich and poor alike, to share in the costs of government.

That seems to please Rep. Bruneel, a no-nonsense Lewiston businessman who finds pragmatic symbolism, if not compassion, in the pennies coughed up by the tax on a basket of food, and thus far is so devoted to the tax heís blocked repeal or reduction of the food tax.

The vast difference between a minimum wage earnerís ability to pay taxes on his familyís food and, say, a mid-level executiveís has yet to dawn on Bruneel.

Since Idaho lawmakers are hoping to slash $200 million in taxes because of a budget surplus, why the likes of Bruneel insist on preserving the food tax is an utter mystery, if not callous stubbornness.

According to a state tax spokesman, the food tax will yield about $136 million in fiscal 2002.

Since the poor are less likely to own taxable property, or earn large taxable incomes, or make major taxable purchases, all thatís left for the state to nail them on is the food they eat.

This remaining vestige of tax-it-if-it-moves thinking should be abolished, and, if need be, replaced with revenues derived elsewhere, not on the necessities to stay alive.

Surely enough legislators see this and have the conscience and good sense to stand up to Rep. Bruneel and demand an end to the tax.



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