By Michael Estes
A few Lansing demonstrators hustled together by AARP and unhappy union
members to create problems at the capital dont constitute the majority
thinking of Michigan voters and especially not seniors.
Instead of wasting a sunny spring Michigan afternoon, most seniors were
busy gainfully employed, assisting those in need or enjoying the company
of their friends and family in their retirements. As a senior Im offended
by the misinformation from the media about the Governors tax proposal.
Its equally sad to hear the pathetic response by wimp Legislators fearful
for their re-election all because some AARP members and some union
employees can support nothing other than their selfish interests. This
mentality is doing nothing to move Michigan forward.
Lets get real. The Snyder proposal to tax pensions wont impact the poor.
Seniors will pay the same tax rate that their 21-year-old grandchildren
Young people and all employed persons pay a percentage of their incomes to
the State; so why should seniors constitute a privileged tax class?
The proposed changes will tax pensions which are income that has never
been taxed just like wages, dividends and interest and other forms of
income. Those seniors with two Social Security checks, two or more
pensions, plus investment income will definitely pay more in Michigan
taxes. They rightfully should. These same pension benefits are already
taxed by Uncle Sam and most states.
Additionally, seniors receive special tax benefits for their age from both
the State and the Federal government that are unavailable to our youth and
My fathers legacy was to leave me a world better than the one he was born
into, to pay his debts and to not burden me with his liabilities. My
generation of seniors is on a path of leaving our offspring with their
monumental debts and little opportunity for the young to pay those debts.
The national debt is $14 trillion and growing. In Michigan, to pay
unemployment benefits, weve borrowed $3.4 billion from the fed without a
plan for repayment. Presently, 67 cities in Michigan are on the watch
list of serious financial trouble with the Treasury. Meanwhile, 90% of
governmental pension plans are underfunded, meaning billions are owed in
the future. Flint needs $20 million just to stay afloat and its unlikely
that public education will survive in Detroit. Unemployment rates are
highest for our youngest citizens, yet we expect them to pay our debts.
Additionally with our support, our young assumed large amounts of their
own debt to finance their college educations with little chance of
recouping that expenditure.
Governor Snyders tax package is not without pain, but its exactly what
Michigan needs. We need to pay as we go and we can no longer apply
Band-aids to difficult financial decisions. We need to create a business
environment and a taxation policy in Michigan that encourages new hiring.
Thats the only way that the youth of Michigan can pay their education
liabilities, purchase the houses we will one day wish to sell, and
otherwise contribute to our common good. Its time for my fellow seniors
to tune out the media fear-mongering and the rants of Lansing protesters
and make their fair share contribution to a solution for Michigan.
Do it for your grandchildren and for those who are yet to come!
Michael Estes is a former mayor of Traverse City.