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What a surprise. I get nothing from the House stimulus package.

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Too "rich" to get a withholding or EITC tax cut. Too "poor" to get a business tax cut. Too single (and too gay) to get a child tax cut.

It's not about me. It's about what I represent. Millions of Americans who make enough money to earn a good living, but who live in large expensive urban areas, have tens of thousands (if not more) in student loans, and now are saddled with expensive mortgages (it costs a lot more to get a one-bedroom condo in the city than a house in the country) and more. We are not "rich." If we lived in Topeka, we'd be rich. But we don't. So why treat us like we are?

The House stimulus bill, like every other piece of legislation passed by Congress and offered by this and every other administration, does not take into account where people live, or what their cost of living is, when determining whether they're "rich." It's particularly ironic, and unfair, since the federal government pays its own employees more based on where they live (i.e., based on the local cost of living).

Did you know that the feds will pay you 25% more than your base salary if you want to live and work in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii. It's a hardship post. So they raise your salary 25%. And then there's the Virgin Islands, always an awful place to visit, unless you're on your honeymoon and like idyllic beaches and sun and sea - you get a 23% cost of living adjustment for living there.

In Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau in Alaska, COLA rates are decreasing from 25 percent of base pay to 24 percent. In Puerto Rico, COLAs are shifting down from 11.5 percent to 10.5 percent. For Kauai and Maui counties in Hawaii, the rates are increasing from 23.25 percent to 25 percent. In Hawaii County, COLAs are decreasing from 16.5 percent to 16 percent. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, they are rising from 22.5 percent to 23 percent.
Why do they pay you more for doing the same job in different cities? Because the cost of living is higher in those cities, among other reasons. Then why not treat tax policy the same way the feds treat their own employees - take into account the local cost of living when determining someone's wealth? Or, get rid of the COLAs and treat us all equally.

I know some in the base of the Democratic party hate money and success. They think anyone who has busted their butt and made it in this country deserve to be punished, or at least shunned. This post isn't for you. The problem is, far too much of that attitude has become dogma - subtle dogma - in the Democratic party. Every proposal has to help the poor, screw the rich, and perhaps help people in the middle (though it's not a priority), and if we help the middle, we arbitrarily exclude millions of upper middle class Americans as "rich" because, well, they've done well for themselves, and as Democrats, we sub-consciously abhor success.

I should not be paying for this economic stimulus package. I just bought my first condo, ever. I've been living in a studio apartment for 15 years while paying off student loans that were equal to my monthly rent payment. I have health insurance that, for all intents and purposes, includes no prescription drug plan. I'm trying to figure out how to scrounge up enough free drugs to pay for my asthma medicine. I am not rich. (And yes, I do get to go Paris every year. But often the trip is paid for by a client, or because I stay with friends, so again, not rich here - I'm just good at finagling free trips.) Yet somehow, people like me are treated as though we're rich. And in a normal year, I can suck it up and take one for the country. But this isn't a normal year. I'm just as worried as anyone about where my salary is going to come from this year. But for some reason, people like me are the only ones ignored by the House stimulus package - ignored by pretty much every piece of legislation out there to help people financially. We are the only ones who are literally being asked to pay for this package while everyone else benefits from it.

At some point, you get really sick and tired of always paying for everyone else. You get really sick and tired of people who have rather cushy jobs, guaranteed paychecks, and unlimited health care telling you that you live too well, and therefore need to take one for the team.

If this were a welfare bill, and we were all being asked to pay for it in order to help the poor pay for their winter heating, or some such thing, I'd say, great, where do I sign up? But it's not a welfare bill. It's a bill that hands out free money to big business, to the poor, and to lots of people in the middle who aren't poor and aren't having a problem paying their bills. It just gives them money anyway, my money, our money. I get that we're risking a depression here, and we need a stimulus packag - and I'm all for infrastructure projects and the like. But I'm just getting a little tired of always being the one - the single gay guy without kids, the upper middle class yuppie living in a big expensive city, the small businessman too small to have a "real" business that actually gets tax cuts - footing the bill for everyone else's handout, rich and poor.

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