Dear Editor:

I usually abide by the adage “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet,” as it’s unusually accurate.

This letter is in response to the many inaccuracies in a January 31st “Letter to the Editor” by Jeanne Larson of Phillips.

But first, allow me to sincerely thank Ms. Larson for her career in public service as a court system state worker.  We need more – not fewer – dedicated public servants working in Wisconsin’s court system.

But that career meant she spent too-little time around the private sector to grasp the realities of most economic principles that affect most Americans daily.

Like me, Ms. Larson is a partisan.  She is a Democrat, and I am a Republican.  I welcome public debate but will always push back when assertions are made that spread falsehoods in fact, or even lead the reader to draw a conclusion that is patently untrue.

Ms. Larson states that:

  • The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) benefited only the wealthiest Americans (those earning more than $421,000 nationally, or those in the 1%…or $350,000 in Wisconsin);
    • In fact, given that 38% of all income taxes are paid by the top 1% earners, and 70% by the top 10% of income earners, there aren’t a great deal of taxes paid by the lower income households that could have been reduced.
    • A majority of the lowest income households (those earning in the bottom 50% of earners) pay just 3% of total federal income taxes, partly because many of these same workers receive an enhanced an Earned Income Credit – getting money back from the government that they hadn’t even paid in the first place;
    • Every couple with two children earning less than $60,000 now pays zero income taxes, when previously the federal income tax for that same family was $1,460, which is a very nice benefit for those families, and amounts to a 100% income tax cut.
  • Personal tax cuts expire after 2025, while the corporate tax cuts were permanent;
    • Ms. Larson failed to inform readers that it was Democrats in Congress in 2017 – and on June 20, 2019, when 100% of the Democrats on the Ways & Means Committee – who objected to making the TCJA personal tax cuts permanent.
  • Those receiving dividend income from stock ownership received a big tax break in the TCJA;
    • In fact, there was no change to the tax benefits of receiving dividend income – the last change to dividend income tax law was in 2001.
  • The tax cuts are adding to the federal deficit;
    • That’s humorous, given that tax receipts grew from $3.32 trillion in 2017 to $3.44 trillion in 2019, which leads me to believe that it’s a spending problem our elected officials have, and not a revenue problem.
  • That 84% of stock ownership is held by those in the top 10% of households by wealth;
    • In fact, nearly 80% of all Americans own stock, including 100% of state employees, such as Ms. Larson, who owes at least 65% of her pension to the stocks in her portfolio managed by the Wisconsin State Investment Board.
  • The federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour, which is a fact but mentioned as a cudgel in her opinion piece;
    • This remains a red herring, and deserves a “so-what” response, as 31 states have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum and, even in Wisconsin, the starting full-time wage stands at about $13 per hour;
    • Higher mandated minimum wages hurt young people most by leading to higher unemployment rates for unskilled and young workers.

I’m all for reading others’ opinions in the newspaper, but fiction writers like Ms. Larson should disclose their content as such.

Kevin Hermening


Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot and Review gladly publishes letters from readers and from all candidates for local offices. The views of our readers are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email or mail to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis., 54403.