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To invest in kids, summon courage to cut tax loopholes

reykdal-chrisBy REP. CHRIS REYKDAL

(April 8, 2013) — A successful America — and Washington State — requires a robust and healthy middle-class. We created that middle-class from the bottom up from 1941 to 1980; four decades of growing prosperity because we literally built things for the rest of the world, we invested in our workers, we unionized, and in turn those workers paid taxes and supported a vibrant public education system that became a self-fulfilling circle of success.

The trickle-down philosophy of Ronald Reagan began to unravel middle-class prosperity after his inauguration in 1981.  His outright attacks on public- and private-sector unions became the centerpiece of his economic agenda — deflate wages for the masses, create an unprecedented accumulation of wealth for the top 1%, and then convince the citizens that their struggle has come at the hands of big government, a failed public education system, and the ultimate demon-spawn — TAXES.

Sadly, that philosophy permeated the hearts and minds of too many Republicans and Democrats over the decades and a once robust discussion of competing economic philosophies became an almost uniform chant for the dismantling of all that made us great. In Washington State, union density has shrunk nearly 40% since the Reagan revolution.

But are things beginning to change?

While we are still seeing some legislation that seeks more tax breaks for the wealthy, repeal of minimum wage, repeal of prevailing wage, and a loss of support for injured workers, there is a new awareness that these approaches are doing more damage than good to our economy and our future.

We have a new Governor who is showing no interest in these failed policies that seek to harm working-class families.  Instead, he is proposing to invest more in education and job training. He is proposing to shut down hundreds of millions of dollars of reckless tax loopholes to invest in job growth, a sustainable environment, and a brighter future that we can all shape for the better.

A new breed of legislators, social justice activists, and small business owners are joining labor leaders and long-standing champions of working families to once-again embrace the concept of building an economy from the bottom up. Creating family-wage jobs not only helps workers but these policies promote economic growth and contribute to our economy’s recovery. Disposable income encourages spending, which is good for business.  The real job creators are healthy consumers!  Businesses hire workers when they have demand for their products and services not because they got another fat tax break.

As Gov. Jay Inslee said in his 2013 budget proposal, investing in a working Washington begins with investing in education. We can begin this process by eliminating tax breaks that have either proven to be ineffective at improving economic outcomes or that lack any specific, measurable public policy objectives. These are tangible steps we can take to provide the revenue we need to make critical investments in our future.

We must summon the courage to cut tax loopholes benefiting a select few so that we can invest in Washington’s families. When it comes to our values, we must put workers and public education above corporations. It is time to close the book once and for all on Reagan’s trickle-down experiment. Let’s admit that it failed; let’s invest in our people once again.

If you share this vision, you need to weigh in heavily to Legislators in the coming weeks. You can email your legislator (or others) by clicking here and selecting their name. Tell them to close tax loopholes and put workers and kids before corporations.

Our future depends on a healthy middle class, and the investments we make today in our people will help us turn around an economy and a nation!

Democratic State Rep. Chris Reykdal represents Washington’s 22nd Legislative District, which includes the northern portion of Thurston County, all of Olympia and portions of Lacey and Tumwater. Email him at

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

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