Friday’s letters:

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Tax reform

Losing sight of purpose of taxes

Over the last 30 years we have lost sight of the true purpose of taxes, which is to raise money to pay for the government we collectively decide to have. This was evident in the recklessly limited debate over the tax bill recently passed.

We had to lower the corporate tax rate, the argument went, so that our corporations could compete worldwide. Corporate tax rates in Western Europe were often cited. True, they do average about 20 percent, close to the new U.S. rate, but those countries also have a value added tax (akin to a federal sales tax) of 20 percent or more. As a result, they largely pay for the government they have. So if you want Irelandís low 12.5 percent tax rate, then you need to accept its 23 percent VAT, too.

That is, you need to do that if you want taxes to do what they are supposed to do: pay the bills. Instead we got another trillion dollars or so of federal debt.

Bob LaBarre, Palm Harbor

Lower rates for all | Dec. 23, letter

The bills will come due

It is funny to hear Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, cheerlead this new tax bill rammed through Congress in a few days against the will of the people. Next year, the average federal tax cut would be $1,610. The bottom fifth of income earners would get an average cut of $60, and those in the middle fifth would get a $930 cut on average, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. The top 1 percent would get $51,140 on average, and the top 0.1 percent would get $193,380.

The GOP will have to pay for this mess of a bill somehow, so House Speaker Paul Ryan and company are going to go after your Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. When the wave of Democrats is voted in next year, the GOP will again harp on the deficit and demand that we must pay down the debt.

Letís not forget next election how Bilirakis voted to take money from you and give it to the wealthy.

Scott McKown, Clearwater

High-tax states will suffer

What do the following states have in common? Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, New York, Vermont, California, Hawaii, Delaware and Illinois. The answer is that they are all Democratic states and they are the highest-taxed states in the country.

Donít be surprised if you notice a lot of license plates from these nine states after the new tax bill goes into effect. When this occurs, Floridians will see an increase in property values and homes will sell even faster than they are presently selling.

Perhaps I should consider activating my real estate license.

Charles Graham, Pinellas Park

End secrecy in Congress abuse cases | Dec. 26, editorial

Make representatives pay

I am appalled and angry that taxpayer money has been used to pay off misconduct claims against some of our representatives in Congress. Most Americans have worked too hard to spend money on these sexual harassment claims.

I feel that all of the accused people should repay every last cent the government has used to cover up these sexual harassment issues.

And finally Ö shame on them.

Marilyn Satinoff, Palm Harbor

Second country to put embassy in Jerusalem
Dec. 25

Digging deep for the news

Once again, the editors have misplaced important news off the front page to an easily missed section. In this instance, the article "GUATEMALA: Second country to put embassy in Jerusalem" is placed on 9A instead of the front page. This article shows that other countries are planning to move their embassy to Jerusalem after our president, Donald Trump, has shown the courage and wisdom to do the right thing in respecting Israelís right to choose its own capital.

I can easily recommend several "front page" articles that do not belong on the front page and should be placed in the local section or on the back pages of the "A" section. I am getting used to ignoring the front page until after first reading more important articles that are hidden in your paper.

Robert Karp, Tampa

Sharing economy good for state | Dec. 20, letter

Short-term renter trouble

While Tallahassee enjoys the lionís share of increased tax revenue, the local residential taxpayer gets all of the expense, trouble and a hit to their property values.

Recent experience with Airbnb in a bedroom community has included 1,000 hours of local law and code enforcement, garbage strewn in the streets, a drunken brawl with property damage to adjacent homes, and countless sleepless nights for the homeowners and their families.

Tallahassee, in looking out for the Airbnbs, you have damaged your local communities.

Roberta Hosken, Largo

Use federal leverage to negotiate drug prices
Dec. 25, editorial

Drug companiesí big profits

The worst example of corruption in our government is the monopoly given to the big drug companies. Our government gives them a blank check to charge whatever they want, and they do.

Negotiating with the drug companies by the federal government is impossible. In 2003, the Republicans forced Medicare to pay the full inflated retail price for drugs. This in spite of the fact that the VA gets a measly 15 percent or so volume discount. Medicare is many times bigger.

Republicans talk about free market competition, but campaign contribution money leads to inflated monopoly prices for the drug companies. When Democrats put together Obamacare, they left the crime intact.

Now the Republicans have added insult to injury by giving the profitable drug companies a tax cut.

Ronald Baltrunas, Clearwater

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