Retirement funding needed
Our country has been riled up over the so-called payroll tax. Most politicians want to extend the "tax" reduction in order to gain favor with the voters, but what the public should understand is that this is not a tax in the normal sense of the word.
Social Security payroll withholding, known as FICA, is not a tax but a required pension payment to ensure Social Security benefits for retirees. It is actually more like an insurance payment. The name itself, FICA, means Federal Insurance Contributions Act. This should be differentiated from federal, state and local taxes, as they are real taxes that go into the taxing authority's general funds.
If our politicians would be honest with the public, and not try to influence voters by telling them that they instigated a "tax cut," this issue would not even be on the table. We need every dollar that goes into the Social Security system to ensure a retirement benefit for our children and grandchildren.
On top of this is the fact that the slight reduction from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent is insignificant to the average worker but significant to the nationwide pool of money that Social Security needs to maintain retirement benefits for our retired population.
Leslie Spang, Largo
They picked party loyalty over you Dec. 22, editorial
Big cut to Social Security
This editorial is shameless. This payroll tax cut is not a tax cut. It is a Social Security cut.
This is the same Social Security program that you say Republicans are trying to gut. When are we going to pay the bills? How will we sustain Social Security if we strip another $133 billion out of this entitlement?
Eric Webber, Palm Harbor
Uncertainty still reigns
You are trying to tell me there is less uncertainty in knowing that your taxes and unemployment benefits are still going to change, just 60 days later?
David White, Clearwater
Fatal ice pick stabbing ruled 'stand your ground' | Dec. 20
Law's deadly effects
I cannot stand "stand your ground." Once again, someone "stood their ground" and someone else is seriously injured or dead. Is that how we want to live? Someone cuts you off in traffic. Just stab them. Or shoot them.
A kid is skateboarding where a sign says he can't? Just grab your gun and walk on over there and confront him. Oh, you felt threatened. Stand your ground and shoot.
Sheila Krause, St. Petersburg
Put cap on income inequality | Dec. 20, commentary
Cut spending first
The problem with those who wish to tax or cap income of the wealthiest Americans is that they want to take the money from the tax or cap and increase the size of the nanny state by creating new or enlarging existing social programs.
I for one and many other average earners would probably embrace a tax or cap on the wealthy if I had the guarantee that the income would be used to pay down the debt. I am firmly against any new form of revenue that increases spending by the federal government.
The federal government must get smaller and less intrusive in our personal lives and our economic future. The liberal professors who advocate the income equality tax aren't on the side of less government; they are leading voices for the nanny state.
Greg Moyle, St. Petersburg
Make EMS more efficient | Dec. 20, editorial
Taxpayers deserve better
The Times got it right with this editorial. With respect to emergency medical services, "The long-term goal should be to encourage consolidation of the 18 fire districts, not the perpetuation of their existence."
Taxpayers deserve an efficient, cost-effective system, not the cumbersome, complicated structure that results from having 18 separate providers with widely inequitable and unjustified wage and benefit packages.
County Administrator Bob LaSala's plan to make things better is all too typical of those entrenched in government; raise taxes, increase user fees, and further complicate the system with 22 separate EMS fire subdistricts.
In the name of public service, you would think that those involved could get past their self-serving mind-set that protects union fiefdom and territory. Unfortunately we are in need of some political heavy lifting, and no one on the County Commission is willing to really represent the interests of the taxpayers and propose what is obviously necessary.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
Affordable Care Act
Grateful for health reform
My parents were never particularly interested in government or politics and had never voted in their lives. It wasn't until my father became permanently disabled and they became familiar with the terms Occupational Safety and Health Administration, disability benefits and worker's compensation that my parents voted for the first time, for Barack Obama in 2008.
My family's experiences have taught me invaluable life lessons: Being lucky is not enough. And when I found myself with a knee injury my sophomore year, I quickly learned that being young is also not enough.
I am 21 years old and will be graduating from the University of Tampa this spring. Before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, these two things would have assured that I'd have no coverage after May.
If all goes well, I'll be attending law school next year. I am honestly unsure how I would have handled the cost of my student loans if I became ill or injured if I hadn't been able to stay on my parents' plan. A serious accident or illness could have effectively ended my law school career if I didn't have coverage.
Across Florida, 160,000 people under the age of 26 just like me now have insurance because of the health reform, and I am extremely grateful for this. Because of the work of President Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act, no insurance bill is going to stand in my way of making my parents proud.
Alejandro Caraballo, Tampa