Monday, June 18, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Wednesday's letters: U.S. heading toward fiscal cliff

Campaign 2012

Heading toward economic cliff

What's old is new again as Republicans ask, "Are you better off now than four years ago?" Hearing the question, I decided to look back, and the answer is, "Yes, I am." But here's the rub — I still haven't caught up to where I was six years ago before the economy crashed under the Bush administration.

My situation seems to mirror what I read about the U.S. economy in general. Ronald Reagan used this question very effectively during his campaign against an economically incompetent Carter administration. Asking the question today seems more likely to highlight the shortcomings of the last Republican administration than the current Obama administration.

The question I have is ,"Will I be better off in a year?" and I'm afraid the answer to that question is "no" regardless of who wins the election. I expect both parties to continue to jockey for position during this election year and ultimately take us over the economic cliff that looms at the end of the year. It's unfortunate, but that seems to be the state of today's American politics.

Jerry Stephens, Riverview

Too much 'me' and too little 'we' | Sept. 4, commentary

Those left behind

As a Democrat, I was surprised to read David Brooks' column in which he wrote that he doesn't see "what the (Republican) Party is offering the waitress with two kids, or the warehouse worker whose wages have stagnated for a decade, or the factory worker whose skills are now obsolete." How refreshing to read those words from someone within the Republican fold. How many other people in the party feel the same way? Why are they not speaking out?

Pamela Avis, Dunedin

Presidential vagueness | Sept. 4, letter

Laying out the record

The letter writer who complained about the Tampa Bay Times' lack of examination of President Barack Obama's "specifics" should refer to Sunday's edition. A front-page article addressed the 508 pledges that Obama made during his campaign to see how well he had delivered. Every single pledge was rated on a scale from "promise kept" to "not yet rated." That should clear things up.

Jane Young, Tampa

Small business

Feeling the tax pinch

President Barack Obama is disingenuous when he says he is championing small business and the middle class. Obama knows the challenges I and other small business owners face. He is counting on you, the voter, to lump small business owners into his campaign to denigrate high earners.

What he doesn't want you to know is that small business people often take a lesser salary while earning more than his definition of "rich" because they pay taxes on the combined total of salary and business earnings. I've run a small business going on 25 years. I pay taxes on my salary as an employee and on the income my small business earns — both as ordinary income.

Today my income tax rate on ordinary income is 28 percent. In another Obama administration it could be much higher, at least 35 percent. That's huge. Even more significant, most small businesses reinvest their income. This practice creates jobs in all segments of the business.

Alan Wiessner, Safety Harbor

Income tax rates

Concede, move on

It seems that most Americans agree that the tax rate should be raised for those earning over a million dollars a year. Even Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and others have supported this rate hike.

It baffles me why Republicans don't see this as a no-brainer, concede the point, and move on to the discussion of other reforms. They would certainly win over some voters.

Carl P. Hansen, Clearwater

A toxic mix of politics and anger | Sept. 2, commentary

Value of compromise

Bill Schneider's column is timely. Compromise is a necessity, not a dirty word. No matter how sensible the proposals, they are pointless if ignored. That is why we need leadership from a president who understands the value of compromise.

According to Pew Research Center polling last year: "Overall, 55 percent of Americans, including 53 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats, want lawmakers whose views they agree with to compromise. But 50 percent of Republicans, including 56 percent of conservative Republicans, want lawmakers who share their views to stand by their principles, even if that means the government will shut down."

Both houses of Congress in 2013 are likely to be in Republican hands, but executive leadership is another matter. We need a president who recognizes that in politics we must give to get.

Daniel Rutenberg, Tampa

Medicare

Two choices for reform

The issue of Medicare's future is possibly the most important public policy debate since President Ronald Reagan convened a commission on strengthening Social Security in the early 1980s that ultimately extended solvency for the program for decades.

On Medicare there are two options: Americans will have to accept higher taxes for this critical program, like most other industrialized countries do, or convert to a voucher-style system that will mean more out-of-pocket expenses.

I can't speak for all Americans, but private health insurance is eating up my family's budget. I understand that I have to rely on private insurance until I qualify for Medicare; however, I would still rather pay a higher Medicare payroll tax than receive a voucher in my old age that would leave me to the private insurance sharks.

Scott Shoup, Tampa

Cut costs or raise revenue

It's not surprising that few voters believe that either political party as a practical answer for sustaining Medicare, because there isn't one. The system as it currently exists is being swamped by an aging population and health care costs that continually outpace inflation. It's simple math. When costs go up faster than revenue, your only options are to cut costs and/or raise revenue. Either solution will lead to a drastically different Medicare program. Both parties have known this for years, but the easiest path to re-election is always to keep promising more and more government goodies rather than deal with the problem at hand.

I'd be willing to bet that if the government had asked us to pay the true costs of Medicare all along, the taxpayers would have demanded cutbacks in this program years ago.

Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs

Comments

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18