LETTERS: Cruel puppy mills not far off if two federal laws pass

SHARE LETTERS: Cruel puppy mills not far off if two federal laws pass

These dogs were recovered during a raid on an alleged puppy mill near Crown Point, Indiana, in June. | GoFundMe

Two bills recently introduced in the U.S. House, HR 3599, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, and HR 2887, sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin, are an all out attack on the ability of the states to pass and enforce laws that protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens. The two proposed laws would roll back existing laws in favor of big agriculture and other corporate interests.

HR 3599 is a race to the bottom that would forbid states from passing laws regulating agricultural products and forcing every state to permit the sale of any “agricultural product” — including puppies — if any other state permitted the sale, regardless of how hazardous the product or how cruel the production process. States would not be able to regulate toxic discharge from factory farms, the toxicity of chemicals applied to crops, or even the welfare of dogs being force bred in puppy mills if another state allowed such practices.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Laws recently upheld in Chicago, Cook County and Waukegan prohibiting the sale of puppy mill dogs in pet stores are in danger of being rescinded if this bill passes.

HR 2887 has a similar effect. It would prevent states from taxing or regulating any activity in interstate commerce by any person (including a corporation) unless that person is physically present in the state for 15 days or more in a calendar year. This means that the first-in-the-nation law just passed in Illinois outlawing traveling elephant acts would be gutted.

Please call Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and your representative. Urge them to strongly oppose these unwarranted attacks on the rights of states to pass laws protecting consumers, the environment, and animals.

Christine Pado, Third Lake

GOP tax plan designed for the rich

We applaud the Sun-Times for its outstanding coverage of current tax reform efforts in Washington, including a recent editorial that exposed the many negative impacts of the GOP’s proposed reforms. As Republicans in Congress try to push through their tax proposals, it is clear that these so-called tax cuts don’t amount to real cuts for the tens of thousands of low-income, working families and individuals that the Center for Economic Progress serves each year.

The truth is, Americans with low to middle incomes will see little benefit, and some will end up paying more. It is dishonest to blanketly refer to these proposals as tax cuts when benefits almost exclusively target the wealthiest Americans, and it is purposefully misleading to suggest that the proposals will result in meaningful tax relief for those who need it most.

For example, Republicans are marketing the Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion as a tax break for families. However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently estimated that, under the Senate CTC plan, a married couple with two children making $24,000 per year would receive an increased credit of just $200, while a married couple making $500,000 would get $4,000, or 20 times as much. This uneven distribution of tax benefits prompted one Brookings Institution analyst to call proposed CTC changes “a welfare check for the upper class.” Meaningfully reforming the CTC would target the families who need it most, including many in which parents are working at poverty-level wages, rather than ignoring them.

In addition to only minimal tax breaks for the bottom 80% of Americans, the proposals will, by blowing up the federal budget with a $1.5 trillion deficit, likely result in spending cuts that could endanger programs on which the most vulnerable rely. The people we serve may see minimal immediate benefits from the tax plans. However, some of the tax benefits, like the $300 dependent care credit, are temporary, and any gains from the plans will likely be offset by dangerous spending cuts down the line.

From big tickets items—such as elimination of the individual health insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act, cuts to property tax deductions, and elimination of the estate tax—to smaller changes—including elimination of teachers’ ability to deduct supply expenses and changes that could double or triple the tax liability of graduate students—the House and Senate tax bills are too big to rush.

We need reasonable and well-thought-out reforms that help and not hurt taxpayers. Congress is on the wrong path — one that presents both a short- and long-term danger to low- and moderate- income Americans. It’s time to acknowledge that 2017 is not the year for tax reform — especially reform that could negatively impact generations to come.

David Marzahl

President & CEO

Center for Economic Progress

Transit fares hike imposed from above

Every time a fare increase is made in the realm of public transportation, the people making those decisions are the people who are not impacted in the least. The burden of the failure of the political class is always put on the back of the poor. It’s axiomatic in our business-run society that the only people who really count are those who are exploiting the most vulnerable and those who have no voice.

Edward Juillard, West Beverly

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