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There's enough federal revenue to pay bills, if spending would be prioritized

Nugent's e-mail is misleading | July 22 letter

There's enough to cover the bills

At issue is an e-mail I sent explaining that Social Security and other essentials like troop salaries can continue to be paid in the event that a deal isn't reached by Aug. 2. Next month, the federal government will take in roughly $170 billion in revenue. Its total spending obligations add up to roughly $304 billion. That leaves the federal government about $130 billion short. Nobody is arguing that we can pay for everything without having to borrow more money. In fact, that's what the whole debate we're having is about.

What I explained in my e-mail, however, is that we can take the $170 billion that comes in next month and if all else fails, use it to cover the cost of Social Security ($49.2 billion), Medicare ($28.6), Medicaid ($21.4), troop pay ($2.9), veterans benefits ($2.9), unemployment insurance ($12.8), federal courts and law enforcement ($1.4), food and housing assistance for low-income families ($16), IRS refunds ($3.9), Small Business Administration ($0.3), and finally, so that we guarantee that we do not default, $29 billion for the interest we owe on our debt. According to the Washington Post (not exactly a partisan Republican newspaper), at the end of all that, we will have $4 billion left over.

If the authority to prioritize payments for Social Security and the troops is unclear, then the president has a choice. He can pay the bills in the order that they come in or he can prioritize remaining revenues as I have described above and challenge Congress or the courts to stop him. The point is, he has a choice. For our part, Congress has sent letters, offered legislation, and the leaders from both parties in both chambers have stood up and confirmed our desire for him to prioritize. He has a choice.

None of this is meant to minimize the danger of failing to reach an agreement. That danger is very real and it is something that no American should take lightly. At the end of the day, we are all in this together.

U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, Brooksville

Stop picking on property owners

Why is it that when the county needs money (as it inevitably does) the commissioners turn only to property owners to pick up the tab? It seems that for a county that depends on the housing industry for its well-being "revenue enhancements" could come from other sources as well.

The commission had no trouble lowering impact fees in a misguided attempt to aid builders, thus affording them the ability to more easily build new homes for a nonexistent customer. There are many people that live or travel in this county that don't own property. Why don't they have to pay more?

Someone said to me that only property owners should be allowed to vote as they are the only ones with a vested interest. While I certainly don't agree with that, it does illustrate the feelings of lots of property owners in our area. Property owners are not all wealthy. We know that due to the high foreclosure rate.

It has also become increasingly difficult for landlords to make a living. By adding the costs of mortgage, insurance and taxes, the liability side of the equation is much higher than the asset side. What happens then? Foreclosure properties stay on the market and more properties become foreclosures. In this market, it is impossible to raise rents on a home as there are so many on the market.

As Florida has no state income tax, there is only one more option to raise revenue and that is to raise sales tax. Everyone who spends would pay. It's time for all residents of Hernando County to pay their fair share of the cost of living here.

Kathy Moore, Hernando Beach

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There's enough federal revenue to pay bills, if spending would be prioritized 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 10:57am]
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