Grassroots Democratic Party Organizing for Berkshire County

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Letter: Fighting back against the extremist GOP via @berkshireeagle

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Today’s news that the Supreme Court is taking up the Moore v. Harper case ahead of 2024 should scare the hell out of all of us. This Court could gut our Presidential elections the same way they just gutted Roe. Here’s a 🧵 on why it’s so dangerous and what we can do about it. 1/

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Berkshire Democratic Brigades holds meetings (currently virtual) on the second Wednesday of the month.  If you are not already on the Berkshire Brigades mailing list, sign up here to get notices of meetings including the opportunity to sign up for the meeting zoom link.

Berkshire Democratic Brigades Supports Fair Share Amendment


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Letter to the Editor Berkshire Eagle

Clearing up the case for Fair Share Amendment

The Fair Share Amendment on the November ballot is a simple proposition.

(“Organizers want Berkshire County to put the Fair Share Amendment on the map. Here’s what you need to know about the tax proposal,” Eagle, April 5.)

If your taxable personal income is above $1 million, you’ll pay 4 percent more on income above that level. The money will go to infrastructure and education. Nothing else in the tax law will change. But opponents dark-money defenders of inherited privilege — are spreading sinister warnings about ominous complications and perverse effects.

Those claims are baloney. Here’s one of them, from a dire social media ad paid for by one of these dark-money outfits: “Unlike federal taxes, [the amendment] would treat one-time gains from selling a home as income.” This is exactly wrong. The FSA will treat gains from selling your house just like these longstanding tax rules already do. The net profit from selling your house — that is, what’s left after subtracting what you paid for it and what you put into it and what it cost to sell it — counts as (capital gain) income. The taxable part is much less, because selling your home also benefits from a huge deduction: $500,000 for a married couple. The FSA won’t change any of that.

Another phony claim, sometimes accompanied by hand-waving about “Subchapter S corporations,” is that the amendment will harm small business. But here, too, the amendment leaves longstanding rules unchanged. Small businesses sometimes set up as partnerships and Scorporations, whose profits are passed through to the owners’ personal income taxes. The higher rate on higher incomes might mean that tax-delaying or tax-avoiding efforts founded on particular forms of doing business may be less effective. That’s not unfair: That’s the point. Very few truly small businesses would be affected. In Massachusetts, more than 97 percent of owners of “pass-through” entities have taxable personal income below $1 million.

The Fair Share Amendment is simple. However you get your income — whether it’s from a paycheck, working out of the back of your truck, raising crops or cashing brokerage checks — and however your organize that — employee, proprietor, corporation, partnership — if you clear more than $1 million in personal taxable income, you’ll pay 4 percent more on the excess over $1 million. The roads, bridges and schools will be worth it.

Michael Wise

Great Barrington

Letter to the Editor Berkshire Eagle

: Fair Share Amendment would equitably bolster critical public investments

Town meetings in Otis, Lee, Becket, Dalton and Windsor as well as city councils in Pittsfield and North Adams have endorsed the Fair Share Amendment, a common-sense measure to make our state income tax more equitable and to raise funds for ongoing, sustained investments in education and transportation.

We need this badly. Roads, bridges and public infrastructure are chronically underfunded in Western Massachusetts to the tune of $100 million per year, according to an October 2021 report by the State Auditor’s Office. Auditor Suzanne Bump has called for a Rural Rescue Plan to increase Chapter 90 funding, create a public infrastructure agency and enhance access to broadband. The FSA, which is expected to raise between $1.3 billion and $2 billion annually by levying a 4 percent surtax on taxable income in excess of $1 million, would help fund this shortfall.

We also need investment in early childhood care and education, greater access to vocational education and lower tuition at our public colleges and universities. Again, FSA revenue would help.

Is it unfair to ask those who can easily afford to pay more to do so? Hardly. During COVID, the wealthiest among us have seen their incomes and wealth increase substantially while many of the rest of us have suffered, as Don Morrison noted in his excellent column, “Welcome to the new Gilded Age” (Eagle, May 20). The fact is, the wealthy have opportunities to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by taking advantage of loopholes not available to wage earners. High earners actually pay less — a lot less — than the rest of us. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center reports that the richest 1 percent pay only 6.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the bottom 20 percent pay 10 percent.

While the well-funded opposition to the FSA has stoked fear in smallbusiness owners and farmers, this fear is baseless: A small business or farm bringing in more than $1 million annually in profit is not a small operation, and any business or farm doing so should pay its fair share of taxes. Without public investments in education and transportation, businesses and farms would not be able to bring their products and services to market. Those public investments make Massachusetts a desirable place to live, work and, yes, build a business. Let’s share the burden more equitably.

Jeanne Kempthorne, Pittsfield

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Berkshire Democratic Brigades

Berkshire Democratic Brigades

We're Berkshire County's grassroots Democratic organization, supporting progressive issues & candida

Volunteer to help us fight Republican extremists the editor: Thanks to the court-packing scheme of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, the Supreme Court is now just a partisan political animal, mimicking the extreme politics of the Republican Party.You can make a difference: Get involved with the Rural Freedom Network, a group that Sherwood Guernsey formed right here in the Berkshires just after the election of 2016. It is an independent political action committee.Sherwood formed it to support Democratic candidates and Democratic values in rural areas outside of Massachusetts with strong, clear messaging. Right now, we are actively working to support Democrats and to defeat Republican extremists in New Hampshire, upstate New York and in rural Pennsylvania. We are creating and producing thousands of postcards, which we distribute free of charge, creating videos making clear distinctions about choices in November, and stressing the importance of this coming midterm election.Overturning Roe v. Wade is just the worst decision so far from the now illegitimate Roberts court. They make a mockery of our Constitution, pushing an extreme right-wing agenda supported by only a minority of Americans. The list of rights they are prepared to take away from us is no less than terrifying.The only hope is winning the midterm elections in November.You can help by addressing and mailing postcards by emailing or by contributing whatever amount you can to the work of the Rural Freedom Network by going to our website: and clicking "donate." Every dollar counts.Help us fight back. Help us end minority rule. Help us to save our democracy.Mary Pat Akers, Great BarringtonFrank Farkas, Pittsfield Lee Harrison, Williamstown Ben Hillman, SheffieldSheila Irvin, PittsfieldThe writers are all on the board of the Rural Freedom Network. See MoreSee Less
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Don’t like what the Supreme Court is doing? Help us elect Democrats to pass the legislation you want. Volunteer to send postcards to New Hampshire and Pennsylvania voters in crucia districts. Donate to help us support Hassan in New Hampshire and Fetterman in Pennsylvania…and postcards will be partially printed on the back, so you will be responsible for handwriting a greeting of only 2 lines. Full instructions and mailing labels will be given to you along with the postcards.Thank you so much for volunteering, and if you have any questions, please email Mid-county, the postcards can be picked up from:Ginny O’Leary, at 17 Constitution Rd. in Pittsfield. Her email is: you live in South County, you may obtain postcards from:Michael Wise173 Castle Street, Great Barrington413-528-9202, 413-854-1323 (mobile) or If you live in North County, you may obtain postcards from:James Mahon (at his home or will deliver)195 Pine Cobble Rd., Williamstown413-884-5694 or * RequiredEmail*Your email See MoreSee Less
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BREAKING: The MA House just passed a bill to further protect abortion and gender-affirming care in the Commonwealth! See MoreSee Less
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On overturn of Roe v. Wade from our friends at the Rural Freedom Network . See MoreSee Less
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