A simple tax for everyone is the answer
While I deeply oppose the income tax, it is not likely to end anytime soon.
Therefore, I propose a change that would greatly simplify the process and make it eminently fair: enact a tax rate on all gross income of 10 percent.
The rich would pay 10 percent of their yearly income. Corporations and small businesses would pay 10 percent of their yearly profit.
Working people: 10 percent. Retirees: 10 percent. Welfare recipients: 10 percent. No deductions for anyone. No impossibly complex regulations that experienced lawyers struggle to understand. No massive forms and schedules.
Just a straight, simple 10 percent shared exactly the same by every income recipient.
Norm Lucas, Tampa
If you think Republican attempts to cut spending are to reduce the deficit, consider yourself duped.
Cuts are aimed at the 12 percent of the budget that funds education, financial assistance and the organizations that protect us from big business greed. Republicans usually cut these organizations to the point of their inability to do their jobs and then tell you how poorly the government works.
It's all about winning elections: Cut spending that is least likely to cost votes and protect spending that benefits big business sponsors.
Barry Reichard, Homosassa
Obama re-election campaign
As a liberal disappointed with President Barack Obama, I wondered how he would address his disaffected base in the runup to the 2012 election.
I think I found his strategy — and first re-election campaign speech — in his address Friday announcing the agreement that averted a government shutdown. Not only did he not mention with any conviction the Democrats' fight for issues liberals hold dear — like the availability of government-funded health care to poor and middle-class women, or the need for the wealthy to contribute more to bring down the deficit — he quoted a letter referring to these causes as "petty grievances."
Not once did he use his bully pulpit to remind the nation that we have a revenue problem in addition to a spending problem. His "I-am-above-all-this" stance was clearly directed at the so-called independents. It appears he apparently has decided to bypass the base that worked so hard to get him elected: the young, the poor, minorities and the liberal middle class.
What I saw in his smarmy speech Friday was a elected politician refusing to remember the tone and content of the words that got him elected.
Shirley Copperman, Tarpon Springs
Setting an example
I'd like to send this memo to Congress:
Last year I mismanaged my funds, and this year I cannot decide on a budget. Until I can come to a decision that fits all of my needs and interests, I will have to shut down my checkbook and will no longer be able to pay my taxes. I'm sure you'll understand.
Steve Harris, St. Petersburg
Hard choices on the budget | April 10, editorial
Lack of leadership
Stating that Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposal shows Republicans and Democrats "appear to be in the same ballpark" is ludicrous. Ryan's spending cuts are six times as great as those in the vague outline offered by President Barack Obama.
A year ago, with control of both houses of Congress and the White House, Democrats did not pass a budget for fear of alienating voters; the November results show that strategy didn't work. Now, almost a year later, Obama showed up at the last minute and stated that he "expects to see a proposal on my desk tomorrow morning." That's not leadership, and makes me think he spent more time on his NCAA basketball picks.
I'm not endorsing Ryan's plan, but at least he seems willing to get involved and put some detailed proposals in writing, regardless of their effect on his political future.
Peter Ford, Tierra Verde
Republican Paul Ryan's budget proposal is bold in sheer size of tax and spending cuts, but as a matter of principle and governance. it's just more Republican reverse Robin Hood redistribution of wealth and trickle-down economics.
Ryan's plan starkly deviates from the sensible Bowles-Simpson bipartisan budget commission proposal, which recognizes that spending cuts in combination with revenue (tax) increases is the way to significantly reduce the federal debt without increasing poverty and inequality. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan's plan will cut taxes for people with incomes over $1 million by $125,000 a year, none of which is even ostensibly intended for deficit reduction or job creation.
The upper 1 percent of Americans already control 40 percent of the nation's wealth, and Ryan's plan will continue to widen the gap between rich and poor.
George Howlett, Tampa
Budget boldness for a bright future | April 10, commentary
A path to poverty
Former Gov. Jeb Bush gushes praise on Rep. Paul Ryan's 10-year budget plan, calling it "refreshingly honest."
Well, in a way it is. It exposes to the core what the Republican Party stands for: denying the poor, the middle class and the disadvantaged of this country a social safety net in their "golden" years by dissolving Medicaid and privatizing Medicare.
Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" should be renamed the "Path to Poverty" for seniors.
John Solvibile, Clearwater
Former Gov. Jeb Bush applauds the Republican budget plan, including the plan to dismantle Medicare and replace it with vouchers to purchase private insurance. Despite his praise for the plan, Bush makes it clear that the dismantling of Medicare will not affect anyone currently over 55.
By excluding current Medicare recipients and those who are relatively close to being eligible, Bush hopes to avoid outraging an important voting bloc. Seniors overwhelmingly approve of Medicare — and for good reason.
The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the voucher will ultimately cover only a third of the cost for coverage. Bush does not explain how seniors on a fixed budget will pay for two-thirds of the cost of their health insurance expenses.
I guess he favors rationed care. Those seniors who can afford private insurance will do fine; those who can't will be deprived of basic medical care.
Jeff Grabel, Brandon