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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

March 6, 2009 at 5:30 PM

National stimulus package

Tax rate centers Americans after moving far right

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The Associated Press

President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Editor, The Times:

“Class warfare” seems like an extreme overreaction to President Obama’s plan to only raise the top-federal, income-tax-bracket rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, as was done during Bill Clinton’s presidency [“Implicit in budget plan is a reversal of fortune,” Times, Nation & World, March 1].

Contrast this to Franklin D. Roosevelt raising it from 25 percent to 63 percent upon taking office in 1933, to 79 percent in 1936 and finally to 90 percent while dealing with the Great Depression.

The top income-tax rate remained near 90 percent through the Eisenhower administration and stayed at 70 percent or above through the Republican administrations of former President Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford until the Reagan administration drastically lowered it during the 1980s.

Americans forget how far right we have moved and how much we have widened the income gap between the rich and poor in the last 30 years.

CEOs made 40 times the average wages of their workers 30 years ago, whereas it is 400 times today.

From this perspective President Obama’s ambitious program of change would simply move us to the center of the political spectrum, not nearly as far left as during the majority of the 20th century under both Republican and Democrat administrations.

— Norm Luther, Underwood

Stop arguing over taxes

I think it’s time for members of Congress to come together as one in support of President Obama’s economic recovery plan. Although Republicans and Democrats are still arguing about the specifics of the plan, I believe the American majority supports this course of action as necessary to save our economy.

President Obama came into office with a vision for how to get America back on track, and he needs both Democratic and Republican support to achieve this vision.

The public is shocked at the growing debt of this country and horrified at the realization it will take many years for our country to once again be fiscally sound.

Without the stimulus package, inflation will continue to increase, causing greater job loss and increasing poverty. Without the stimulus package, millions of Americans will lose their jobs and homes.

This is not a Democratic plan nor a Republican plan; this is an American plan.

The time for arguing over taxes is over; it’s time to look toward making the future better. After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.”‘

— Zoë Fabien, Seattle

The envy of the world: a free-enterprise system and self-reliance

E.J. Dionne Jr. says, “The central issue in American politics now is whether the country should reverse a three-decade-long trend of rising inequality in incomes and wealth” [“Learning to share (some of) the wealth,” syndicated column, March 3].

It is liberals who have decided now is the time to make this an issue. The solution is very simple and just what the liberals want: socialism. Socialism is the system that redistributes wealth and equalizes income.

Dionne then says conservatives are changing the subject by criticizing Obama for refusing to play the role of a “war president.” This may be one critique of conservatives, but the main one is sticking to our principle that this country became great because of capitalism, a free-enterprise system, and self-reliance.

This system has always made a few terribly wealthy, such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, but the result has been a standard of living that, over the years, has gone up and up and long been the envy of the world.

In countries where socialism is the guiding principle, the standard of living is lower and taxes are higher.

This is the crux of the current discussion: Do you really want the government to take care of you, or do you want you and your children to continue having the opportunity to become what you want to be?

— Henry Kroeger, Redmond

The fight against earmarks, not a wonton waste

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., fought valiantly to remove over 9,000 earmarks from the $410 billion omnibus-spending bill, only to be told by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to worry about them because they only represented about one percent of the amount being spent.

$12.8 billion. Reid says fighting against such wonton waste is just smoke to hide the fact that the Republican Party want President Obama to fail.

Republicans are responsible for almost half the earmarks.

The problem here is our lawmakers don’t give a damn they are wasting almost $13 billion. It’s not their money, but by spending it they have a lot greater chance of retaining their jobs in future elections.

What kind of crazy country do we live in?

The people we employ to represent us waste our money to keep their jobs. $200,000 to help gang members to remove tattoos. $150,000 for a rodeo museum. Is this how a nation drowning in debt should spend its money?

This isn’t about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about doing what’s right for our nation as a whole.

John McCain is right: this silly business of earmarks to gain public favor must be stopped. The only way to stop is by no voting for the people responsible for wasting our money.

— Gene Davis, Lake Forest Park

Learning from Russian interim chaos

You know what they say: What goes around comes around.

Ronald Reagan is credited with tearing down the evil empire of the former Soviet Union when they spent themselves into bankruptcy and dissolution with an arms race they couldn’t win. Now, a couple decades later, the Russians are enjoying capitalism, using a flat tax that has surprisingly increased revenue as fewer people cheat. Even their cabinet members can pass an audit.

Now it’s our turn. We elected the most qualified leaders to teach us our lesson. They sure know how to spend, support the unions and basically control the country’s economy.

But, we can still hope to learn quickly. The interim chaos for Russians was awful, but if it led to a renewed appreciation of capitalism and a flat-tax system, so people could have a chance of getting it right without a business degree, it was a good thing.

Russian history of spending shows what not to do. Even a Russian economist recently predicted the U.S would be bankrupt by 2010 at the rate we’re going.

Our history shows that someday there will be a silver lining and we’ll sing “Happy days are here again.” But first, the clouds will come and we’ll sing “Brother can you spare a dime” while we suffer payback for the Reagan years of egging on the former Soviet Union to their own destruction.

— Margaret Wiggins, Bothell

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