Social Security and Medicare
Don't hurt elderly to pay for wars
According to the National Priorities Project, U.S. taxpayers will pay $169.4 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars during fiscal year 2011 alone. The total cost for these wars since 2001 is a budget-busting $1.3 trillion. While the merits of these two military campaigns may be debatable, there is no doubt that members of Congress are fighting over debt limits and spending cuts largely because of these two wars.
To lower the budget deficit inflicted by these wars, conservatives in Congress pledge "no new taxes" and seek cuts to benefits offered by Medicare and Social Security. This is tantamount to saying that elderly Americans need to pay for these wars. Instead of "taxing" the elderly, Congress should close the tax loopholes. Millions and millions of older Americans have paid into these two programs all of their working years in good faith in order to have additional financial security during their retirement years.
Our country was founded on integrity; let us not lose sight of this virtuous and noble quality. Let's not hold elderly Americans excessively responsible for the financial burden caused by sustained wars and a long-standing practice of congressional mismanagement of the Social Security Trust Fund and Medicare.
Philip Amuso, Tampa
Compromise is essential
All intelligent individuals know that we have to both reduce the spending that has gone unchecked by the federal government as well as increase revenue from sources most able to absorb the increase. The refusal of either party to compromise and speak in one voice so that the country embraces the task before us is unconscionable.
We have been involved in two wars and an attack on our homeland that has caused our nation to go to battle, with a minority of individuals making the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the rights we all cherish. We show them no respect at home when we cannot unite and agree among ourselves to tackle the problems before us and to provide them a safe, secure and healthy homeland.
John D. Mallah, Maitland
End the special breaks
Republicans are adamant that there will be no tax increases on their watch. They are so dedicated to this concept that they refuse to rescind any of the special benefits, tax exemptions and subsidies granted to the most wealthy individuals and dominant corporations. They claim this would be, in effect, a tax increase.
Yet, somehow, forcing millions of retirees and senior citizens on Medicare and fixed incomes to pay larger co-pays and higher prices for medications does not register to them as a tax increase. What hypocrisy.
Frances Ehrenpreis, Dunedin
Where have all the children gone? | July 4
The missing factor
Among the reasons given by experts, allow me to offer one not even mentioned in this Associated Press report.
The AP stated that "teen pregnancy rates among blacks have also plummeted." None other than the Guttmacher Institute, hardly a proponent of abstinence programs, reported in the Washington Post that from 2005 to 2010, black teen pregnancy rates were once again on the rise.
Also missing entirely from this story was the fact — also reported by the Guttmacher Institute — that the black abortion rate is almost five times that of white women.
Kenn Sidorewich, Oldsmar
Extend route to draw riders
A way to entice visitors in Central Florida to use SunRail would be to somehow get it extended from DeLand to the coast, in particular Daytona Beach. Although that part of the Atlantic Coast is known for cars driving on the beach, getting there by foot from Orlando would increase ridership, the Achilles' heel of the SunRail plan.
It is possible to get around the boardwalk area of Daytona Beach without a car and even shuttle to other areas if needed. This would be a great way to introduce skeptical Floridians to the idea that rail is a viable way to get around.
Without an extension to the coast, however, SunRail just may experience a similar fate that TriRail has in South Florida: low ridership, cost overruns and a general lack of practical planning.
Rand Moorhead, St. Petersburg
Pinellas route off-track | July 3, letter
Back to the future
The letter writer is correct in suggesting that a light rail system should run on Fourth Street rather than be hidden along I-275. If it is meant to serve the residents of St. Petersburg, it should be available where people live and work.
Back in 1916, H. Walter Fuller and George S. Gandy began building a trolley line up Fourth Street and actually built a trolley bridge across Tampa Bay. By the time it was completed in 1924, automobiles were the preferred method of travel, but that very first bridge had unused tracks down the middle. They were ahead of their time.
Robert A. Stanton, Seminole
Enough, please, governor
After yet another annoying, intrusive phone call from Gov. Rick Scott, this fed-up citizen pleads that he cease and desist. Yes, my home number is on the do not call list, which serves us not at all.
Good manners suggest that our governor respect the sanctity of a person's home and the right to privacy. Get off my phone. Please.
Anne Mulcahy, Palm Harbor
Tax cuts flow to customers | July 5, letter
Profits used for salaries
A recent letter makes the case that business tax cuts are actually tax cuts to consumers.
Recent corporate reports show a lot of cash, but it's not being used to lower prices. It's being used to pay executives obscene compensation and to buy legislative influence.
Jerry R. Dangler, Palm Harbor
China opens oil field in Iraq | June 29
Making Iraq safe for China
Oil exploration and drilling is resuming in Iraq. Is this drilling by an American company? No, it's being conducted by the state-owned China National Petroleum Co. I guess now our troops will be providing security for China to conduct its operations in safety.
This is pure insanity. Bring the troops, all the troops, home now.
Ed Carper, Bayonet Point