To save Social Security, let's get to work | July 11, story
Drop Social Security earning cap
So we have to "get to work," yet the article opens with House Minority Leader John Boehner wanting to increase the retirement age to 70, but only start that 20 years from now. So either fixing Social Security is not a pressing issue or Boehner just wants his "fix" put off until he's not around for the backlash.
The article goes on about other "considerations," yet the quickest, most effective solution has again been ignored. The cap on earnings should be eliminated. Right now the majority of wage earners pay 6.2 percent of their wages, but someone with a million-dollar salary pays only 0.66 percent of his or her wages.
If Social Security tax was withheld on all wages, the monetary problem would be eliminated. In addition, if the withholding was unlimited as to the amount of wages, the percentage could be reduced, thereby lowering taxes on the majority of workers. Most businesses would also see lower taxes.
The problem now is that even though the majority of wage earners and many businesses would see a decrease in tax, the Republicans would use their usual scare tactic of yelling that it's a Democratic tax increase. And then the Democrats would do their usual caving in to the Republican nonsense and not follow through on what would benefit a large majority.
Dan Favero, St. Petersburg
Raising the retirement age
Their latest ploy
Finally, the true Republican and Blue Dog Democrat colors are coming out. People are not falling for the old "just cut taxes" ploy, so they have come up with the "we are broke and have to do this" maneuver. That is: raising the Social Security age to 70.
The example is given that work is easier today. It is in the U.S. Congress, but people with real jobs might disagree. Besides, we raised the Social Security tax on several occasions so that this would not happen. Too bad Congress used those funds to finance tax cuts for the wealthy, rather than cutting the national debt.
Still, it does answer one question. When we finish sending back all the immigrants, we will have this new population of 62- to 70-year-olds to take over picking the crops and doing our landscaping.
Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa
Obama fills Medicare post; GOP cries foul July 8
Health care official's appointment an outrage
The recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is an outrage.
Although presidents of both parties have long used the back-door power of recess appointments, the Berwick appointment is particularly grievous.
His comments on the health care system as a vehicle to redistribute wealth are scary. The free enterprise system has been our strength, but I fear the Obama administration does not see it that way.
Some of Berwick's comments from 2008, in a speech in Britain and an article in the British Medical Journal:
• "Competition is a major reason for our duplicative, supply-driven care system."
• "I am romantic about the (British) National Health Service. I love it."
• "(Britain) could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker and that any health care funding plan that is just must redistribute wealth."
How can a radical such as Berwick even get near controlling a major aspect of our health care system? It is apparent that the Obama administration works on a daily basis to move this country in the wrong direction.
Rick Waldemar, Inverness
A worthy appointee
Health care reform advocates, fiscally responsible Americans, the American Hospital Association and AARP are among the numerous groups who are applauding President Barack Obama's recess appointment of a Harvard professor, Dr. Donald Berwick, to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Interestingly, the most vocal opposition is coming from the Republican senators who voted to deny a continuation of unemployment benefits to 1.2 million jobless Americans and their families.
Apparently, these senators believe that taxpayer dollars are better spent trying to marginally extend the life of fatally ill Americans — the amount spent on care for the soon-to-be-deceased accounts for more than one-quarter of Medicare's total annual expenditures — than on keeping unemployed Americans afloat.
Berwick is one of this country's foremost leaders in developing concepts for improving patient care and allocating scarce resources in order to maximize the system's transparency, rationality and accountability.
As concerned citizens, we ought to be saluting these goals, not denigrating them.
Hal Alterman, Clearwater
Special session on drilling ban
Check existing wells first
Gov. Charlie Crist wants to call Florida legislators back into session at a cost of about $50,000 a day to place on the November ballot a change to the state Constitution making offshore oil drilling restrictions part of the state Constitution.
This is a waste of money as Florida already has restrictions on the locations for offshore petroleum exploration and drilling. And this action could be moot since Cuba has been negotiating for offshore oil exploration that could bring operations within 30 miles of the Florida coast.
An investigative report states that there are 3,000-plus offshore petroleum wells that have been drilled and plugged for possible use in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of these date to the 1940s and have not been inspected for leaks or current production use by the U.S. government agencies responsible.
If our elected officials are really concerned with more offshore drilling, they should demand a public list showing the location of these wells and a current inspection report of their safety, as well as whether they can be productive. If they are not productive, show that they are sealed and meet today's safety standards; if they are productive, they must be reopened and used before any new petroleum wells in the Gulf of Mexico are started.
Adolph F. Panella Jr., Valrico