Bill to encourage savings shouldn’t use tax money

Freedom Newspapers

New Mexico lawmakers are considering a bill that could create incentives, using some tax dollars, to spur savings for low-income families. House Bill 112 would appropriate $2 million to pay for a matching-fund mechanism. The bill remained in committee Tuesday.

It should die there if the wording continues to allow any use of tax money.

We certainly favor the bill’s more global purpose of encouraging people to save their own money so they one day might buy a home, start a business or pay for college. However, we oppose the way the law would do it, namely allowing the use of taxes as incentive to some New Mexicans whom the government declares have a greater need for our money than we do.

A proponent of this socialist thought process is Think New Mexico, which promotes itself as developing “effective, comprehensive, sustainable solutions” to state problems. In a guest column published Sunday in the Clovis News Jourrnal, TNM Executive Director Fred Nathan championed the plan this way: “… IDAs (individual development accounts) are an incentive to work, save and build assets, an often-overlooked step to climbing out of poverty.”

He described IDAs as interest-bearing savings accounts targeted to working, low-income families. To create incentives to save, the law would allow a low-income account holder to be given $2,000 a year in public or private funds.

We support the IDA concept only if private funding is used as the incentive. For example, an employer may want to match their employees’ savings because they think it would encourage worker retention. Good idea, but remember, that choice is theirs alone, since they would be giving away only their dollars.

What offends us is the government wanting to steal our money as an incentive for others. Using taxes to help low-income families with basic needs — food, clothing and temporary shelter — is one thing. Giving them our money so they might decide to buy a home, or start a business, or pay for college is a whole other story.

Many middle-income families can’t afford the luxury of a savings plan either; some can’t afford the home they want so they live in the one they own or rent. But the government wants them to help pay for low-income families’ savings?

Calling this law a savings incentive is a sham as long as the use of any public monies are allowed.

No matter how “worthy” the cause, if any of us did what this bill would allow government to do, the police would rightly toss us in jail on a robbery charge. Why should government promote legalized robbery more than it already does?

A cradle-to-grave approach to fighting poverty has never, and will never, work. It has and will only succeed in growing more and more Americans who, for whatever reason, have not been able to better their own lives.