White House aides were told of IRS audit | May 21
Don't put president above the law
The White House chief of staff and the White House counsel knew a month ago that something was amiss at the IRS but decided not to inform the president. The reason is purely political: "plausible deniability." If the president doesn't know, he cannot be blamed. It's a political tactic both Republican and Democratic administrations have used.
But there is a much more serious issue here we all should consider. If one cannot use the old idea that "ignorance of the law is no excuse" as a defense in a court, then what makes plausible deniability okay?
Last time I looked, the president is not above the law.
Peter Klingman, Tampa
British system worked well | May 22, letter
Someone has to pay
Socialized medicine for all is not free. I'm glad the writer received such good care in Britain. The question is: What is he willing to pay for that care to be free in America? If he makes $50,000 per year, is he willing to pay an extra 10 percent tax ($5,000) or 20 percent ($10,000) for that free care? It has to come from somewhere.
James Molloy, Pinellas Park
Obama to graduates: No time for excuses May 21
Father of the decade
Thank you for sharing President Barack Obama's speech to the graduates of Morehouse College. As we approach Sunday, June 16, I nominate him for "Father of the Decade." Over the last six or seven years, we have seen how he has been a role model as a father to his daughters.
As he stated in the Morehouse address, "Be the best father you can be to your children, because nothing is more important."
If all fathers in the United States follow his example, our nation will indeed be more morally, mentally and economically stable and strong.
Gerald Buchert, St. Petersburg
Insurer gets $52M deal | May 23
While Citizens Property Insurance Corp. continues to find "creative" ways to lessen its potential risk, it doesn't seem to mind shifting that risk onto current policyholders by sending them to takeout companies with no history of paying claims.
Shifting $400 million of risk onto a company (Heritage Insurance) with $60 million in capital (as opposed to Citizens' $6.4 billion in reserves) doesn't seem like a good risk for the policyholders. Too bad Citizens' policyholders weren't consulted during the "due diligence" phase.
I think anyone who accepts this state-funded approach to switch to Heritage Insurance should weigh their own risk in getting hold of an agent in case of need.
Dave McCubbin, Palm Harbor
Greasing the wheels
I have spent my life building businesses but never knew how much time and effort I have been wasting. You don't have to work hard, invest, advertise and build customer base. Heck no.
You start a company, give lots of money to the governor and his cronies in Tallahassee, and lo and behold, a $52 million contract falls in your lap in your first year of business. Bad track record? No problem. Give a little bit more and it will be ignored.
Would that the high-speed rail companies and Amazon had used the same business plan. Florida would have had an extra 30,000 jobs by now.
Keith Fraser, Madeira Beach
IRS official defends self, takes Fifth | May 23
I find it interesting that Republicans are scandalized anew by the decision by Lois Lerner to refuse to answer their questions by citing the Fifth Amendment. Where was the outrage in 2007 when Monica Goodling pleaded the Fifth numerous times in the investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys?
And closer to home, which of them were skeptical of Gov. Rick Scott when he invoked the Fifth 75 times during the investigation into the largest Medicare fraud in history? I guess it just depends on who's asking the hard questions.
Jackie Gavrian, Tampa
System invites abuse
One question that I have not seen addressed regarding the IRS scandal is why such politically inclined organizations need to have tax-exempt status. Why should there be a 501(c)(4) tax exemption? The present complex system invites abuse. This time it was conservative organizations. Under different circumstances, it could have been liberal organizations. One outcome of this IRS issue could be that we re-examine tax exemption for any such organization, conservative or liberal.
Even better would be to do away with the IRS and implement the Fair Tax, which would take away the opportunity for this to happen again. We should go beyond just punishing the wrongdoers and implement a system that does not allow this sort of misuse of power.
David Hagan, Tampa
'Scrap the cap' puts Social Security at risk May 20, commentary
Support for Social Security
The writers' arguments against "scrapping the cap" on Social Security contain too many faulty suppositions. Despite the contention that all is okay as is, the Social Security fund will clearly have a deficit problem as more baby boomers retire; "scrapping the cap" now will fix that. The longer we wait to fix it, the harder the fix will be.
The writers assert that requiring the super wealthy to pay the same payroll tax rate as everyone else would be unfair because they will get a lower rate of return than the average Joe. Well, Social Security is society's financial safety net for all citizens, not an investment program. The wealthy have other investment opportunities. Higher earners within the existing cap have always received a lower return than lower earners. That didn't change the system from an entitlement to a welfare system, and extending the tax burden equally to the super rich won't either.
The related claim that the self-employed would be hurt by "scrapping the cap" ignores the fact that the vast majority of self-employed make less than the cap now, so only the wealthiest of the self-employed would be impacted.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview