Obama's tax rate below secretary's | April 14
Regressive tax must be reformed
The White House just released President Barack Obama's tax return and said it shows a slightly lower income tax rate than his secretary's. What the release didn't say is that the president, and the vice president, paid a dramatically lower portion of their incomes in Social Security tax than the secretary.
According to the release, Obama's secretary would have paid Social Security on all of her salary; the president would have paid it on about a fourth of his salary; and the vice president would have paid the tax on less than half of his salary. Obama is fighting with Republicans to raise income taxes on the very rich; however, he appears to be in complete agreement with Republicans on the Social Security tax — none of these well-paid politicians seem to be interested in eliminating the cap on wages subject to Social Security tax.
If Obama is interested in tax equity, he should stop ignoring this most regressive of all federal taxes.
Jerry Stephens, Riverview
Legislative menu: turkey | April 14
List missed a big turkey
Florida TaxWatch has not included the proposed 12th university to be located in Polk County on its 2012 list of legislative appropriation turkeys (pork barrel projects). By any objective measure, this omission has made the Florida TaxWatch name an oxymoron. There is no way this new university proposal can be justified, and it will cause an unjust burden for the taxpayers and further drive up students' expenses.
Apparently the Florida TaxWatch staff did not realize was how this omission would damage their credibility. Their explanation lacks common sense, and they should re-evaluate their position. Just because an appropriation passes through the legislative process does not automatically preclude it from being a financial turkey.
Roger H. Wilson, Seminole
The road to nowhere
Florida TaxWatch seems to have overlooked state Sen. JD Alexander's $35 million "road to nowhere." Perhaps they are not "watching" closely enough. How could they think this is a worthwhile budget item, or are they just they just following the Republican lead?
Rich Gurczinski, St. Petersburg
Baboons take step toward reading | April 13
Educate children, not apes
What a slap in the face to our educators. Don't spend any of my tax dollars on this project.
Our teachers are taking money out of their own pockets to help educate our children because of inadequate funding for our schools. Teachers invest an inordinate amount of time on revenue-generating projects during the school year on their own free time. This money is spent to help educate our children, again because of inadequate funding from the government.
This baboon project is totally backwards. Can anyone explain why a baboon needs to learn how to read? Our children are our future — not baboons.
Judy Lavaron, St. Petersburg
Attack problems, not people
I know it is a pipe dream, but wouldn't it be productive if rather than attacking each other the candidates attacked the critical issues facing our country?
Could they not spend the next months articulating how they would approach solving our problems — lack of jobs, crumbling infrastructure, pointless wars, tax reform, etc.? This I would listen to. The other, I'll ignore.
Sandy Ericson, Clearwater
Claim sinks under scrutiny
With all the recent attention on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, one significant fact should be clarified.
Neither builders nor owners ever made the claim that the ship was "unsinkable." Marine engineers at the beginning of the 20th century were not naive, and understood that whenever 88,000 tons of steel is placed on water, it can indeed sink. They correctly proclaimed it "nearly unsinkable."
Following the disaster, it made for good press to proclaim that an unsinkable ship had sunk on its maiden voyage, meaning it was headline writers who instigated the claim that survives to this day.
Ed Golly, Tampa
Affordable Care Act
Welcome tax relief
For the first time ever as a small business owner, I am getting some tax relief for providing health insurance to my employees. Because of the Affordable Care Act, we have received a $13,000 tax credit over the past two years.
It is still not easy being a small business in today's economy. Being able to stay competitive and hire quality employees is critical. Offering health insurance is such an important way to show employees that we care about their well-being. This tax season, I am grateful.
Dr. Hansel Leavengood, Tampa
Romney focuses on future in speech at NRA gathering | April 14
This isn't the Wild West
It continues to be a disappointment that politicians choose lobbyists over the people. On the one hand Mitt Romney is letting the NRA know that he will support unbridled gun ownership. In the same day's paper there are three stories on gun violence and death, plus the Trayvon Martin case.
Two of these tragedies are not the result of criminals on the loose, and two are the result of the lax gun laws. I am not in favor of a Wild West mentality when I walk out of my door and will vote accordingly.
Diane Pearson, Dunedin
U.S., Canada alone in Cuba stance | April 15
Policy overdue for a change
It would be great if President Barack Obama's lecturing by the Western Hemisphere leaders regarding Washington's continuing Cold War policy of isolating Cuba would finally bring about change to that policy, but since this is an election year with both parties desperately courting the Hispanic vote, don't hold your breath.
It would make me proud to see some of our leaders show some guts and make a difference by hitting this idea of change out of the park.
J. Larry McElveen, Safety Harbor
Tough call on reservoir | April 12
Calling legal aid
Every few days we citizens learn that we're on the hook for still more money because of poorly written contracts — the latest being Pat Bean's legal fees and the repairs to the reservoir.
Who are these lawyers who can't even write a decent contract? There's an ad on TV for software that will compose legal documents, including contracts. It seems Hillsborough County and Tampa Bay Water ought to spend the $39.95 and buy it.
David Brown, Sun City Center