Nessel must curb anti-Catholic rhetoric

Religious bigotry coming from the attorney general is unacceptable. This behavior should not be tolerated anywhere in our state, and it will not be tolerated by a statewide elected official.

Late on Sunday, Michigan’s attorney general made remarks on Twitter alluding to her belief that retired Chief Judge Michael J. Talbot was not able to craft new Title IX rules for Michigan State University because he is a Catholic.

Believing that a distinguished judge cannot do his job because of his religion is delusional. The judge’s faith has nothing to do with his role in crafting rules protecting students’ rights during university proceedings.

New Title IX rules were necessitated by a federal court ruling that current rules were unconstitutional. Previously, students at universities had no right to cross-examine witnesses at university hearings. Often, these hearings would result in the accused being kicked off of campus and out of the university with no refund of their tuition money.

First she tells the press that Catholics shouldn’t pray to their rosaries because they don’t do anything, and now she quips that a judge cannot do his job because he is Catholic. What now has become clear is that there is a disgusting pattern of anti-Catholic discrimination emerging from our attorney general.

Maybe the first person the attorney general’s new Hate Crimes Unit should investigate is the attorney general herself. The attorney general owes an apology to Chief Judge Talbot, the university, and the people of the state of Michigan.

State Rep. Beau LaFave

Iron Mountain

Stop Buying into the “Repeal the Pension Tax” Myth

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and lawmakers from both parties, seem to be in a competition to be the first to “help Michigan seniors” by repealing the incorrectly dubbed “pension tax.” If they really want to help the majority of senior citizens in our state, they would do better to leave it as is and increase the age-based income tax exemptions that replaced the way pensions and retirement income were treated before the 2011 changes.

In 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan lawmakers began phasing out the preferential income tax treatment afforded to those fortunate enough to have a defined benefit pension (primarily government employees) or a 401(k) — IRA based retirement income.

These changes have since been referred to as the “pension tax.”

Prior to those changes, government employees that had a defined benefit pension (guaranteed monthly income for life) – paid for by taxpayers – could collect that income and pay no state income tax on the benefits. Everyone else was entitled to a deduction on their state income taxes for pension or other retirement income of up to $45,120 for a single taxpayer and $90,240 for those filing a joint return.

The 2011 changes moved away from the preferential tax treatment of retirement income and focused instead on all sources of income for those over the age of 67. When people born after 1952 turn 67, they qualify for a senior income exemption of $20,000 for single filers and $40,000 for joint filers, regardless of the income source.

Demographic projections make it clear that Michigan will see more if its senior citizens approach retirement with little or no pension or retirement income. For many, the only option is Social Security and to continue working well into their older age. Statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that 17 percent of Michigan citizens are already at, or over, the age of 65. Another 14 percent are in the range of 55 – 64 years of age.

Research by The Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that nearly two-thirds of workers surveyed said they were likely to work past 65 to make ends meet. This response was most prevalent among women, and low- and middle-income respondents.

As more seniors must work well into retirement, should they be penalized by paying state income tax on their earnings from work while a minority of their peers are given a generous tax exemption for retirement income? If the goal is to “help seniors” then let’s help them all, and not just a few, by leaving the current tax laws in place and increasing the senior income tax exemption.

Charles Owens, Michigan director

National Federation of Independent Businesses


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