When it came to taxes, James T. Hodgkinson was an ideologue, according to a dozen and a half letters to the editor he got published by his local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat.
Hodgkinson — identified as the gunman who shot U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, Wednesday morning before being killed by the Capitol Police near Washington in Alexandria, Va. — spelled out his views over and over again through that old-school forum.
In 18 letters published by the downstate newspaper between May 2010 and September 2012, Hodgkinson kept returning to two key themes.
He repeatedly ripped the income-tax system as unfair and urged that it be remade into a more “progressive” system, with far more tax brackets, to ensure that the rich pay their fair share.
And he blamed Republicans for keeping things the way they are — and Democrats for not standing up strongly enough to stop them.
“It kind of makes you mad to see how crooked our politicians really are,” he said in a letter in October 2010 lamenting what he viewed as the tax system’s inequities.
In March 2011, he hit on a similar theme, adding that Democrats and Republicans alike had done nothing to fix the tax system and writing, “The only way to straighten out this country’s problems is to tax the rich just like they did for the first 60 years of the income-tax era.”
He went on in that March 2011 letter: “Today Congress has put so much burden on the middle working class by lowering the top marginal rate to 35 percent and only $375,000 that we are in a recession and on the verge of a depression. This is just not American. . . . Let’s get back to the good ol’ days, when our representatives had a backbone and a conscience.”
His plan to fix things was fairly complex, according to a May 2011 letter in which he spelled out that there should be a whopping 55 tax brackets and added, “It is a shame that Democrats won’t attack the Republicans over the minuscule and lopsided tax system. . . . These guys are cheating everyone in this country while telling us all the time that they are broke when it is the super rich with all the money.”
His letters took on a harsher but not violent anti-Republican tone later in 2011.
From one published in July 2011: “Vote all Republicans out of office and add six more brackets to the existing six.
From another, the following November: “It’s time for the Republican congressmen to grow up. Maybe if they weren’t so full of hate, they could see what they are doing to this country — selling it to the Chinese just so they can keep more of the millions.”
In July 2012, Hodgkinson, citing MSNBC’s left-leaning host Rachel Maddow, wrote that a relative handful of wealthy people are chiefly responsible for funding Republican Party campaigns and said, “We need to vote all Republicans out of Congress.”
In one of his final letters to the editor, published by the Belleville paper in August 2012, he responded to one of his frequent verbal sparring partners on the News-Democrat’s letters to the editor page, writing: “I have never said ‘life sucks,’ only the policies of the Republicans.”