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GOVERNOR'S BUDGET REVEALS LACK OF VISION

Once again our visionless state leaders will beg, borrow and gamble their way into a state budget this year. It's very troubling to see that we will once again use the ol' "Jeb Bush tradition" of borrowing from trust funds to fund our state.

Where is the law that prevents politicians from raiding trust funds for purposes other than what they were intended for? When will a visionary step forward and overhaul the sales tax system in this state?

Many times I have read studies that show that if they took away the special sales tax exemptions on goods and services most of us could see an overall drop of 2-3 percentage points in the sales tax rate. And with all the talk of tax relief, such a sales tax reduction would be a nice savings for all.

I hope Gov. Charlie Crist budgeted for many special sessions later on in the year as well. Once the smoke clears from the mirrors, it will be quite evident we will be a billion or two short again in 2008/2009.

Jim Steinle, Clearwater

Crist pulls one more rabbit from hat

Feb. 3, Howard Troxler column

Unsavory funds

Howard Troxler correctly said that "it is still a bad idea to pay the light bills and buy the groceries with it." "It" being the money that would come from gambling.

I agree. I heard someone call the lottery the poor man's tax. Some forgo paying their light bill or buying groceries for the family in order to feed their gambling addiction.

Glenda Pittman, St. Petersburg

Economic stimulus plan

Free money will wind up abroad

Sometimes you have to listen for what's not said.

When announcing the proposed free-money program, did you notice the absence of even a hint of spending it on American-made products?

I can't imagine a previous administration foisting this sort of new debt on us without at least a nod toward putting the money to work at home. It would have been mostly political lip service anyway due to the lack of American-made big-ticket items.

The lack of a suggestion to use the cash this way speaks loudly about the origin of the free money.

The $150-billion or more won't come from our treasury. We are borrowing it from the countries that made the stuff we are supposed to buy.

Our sovereign creditors don't mind letting some of our rapidly deteriorating currency circle back through the mill, so they can wring out every drop of value to them.

So do our leaders believe it's vital to our economic future to keep our creditor nations afloat by incurring new debt? I don't pretend to understand macroeconomics or the global economy, but I know when we are owned.

Neal Horton, Safety Harbor

Problem needs addressing

Feb. 2, letter on Social Security

Boomers have paid

Someone needs to remind the letter writer, a "soon-to-graduate" USF student, of a few facts. Those soon-to-retire boomers have been diligently paying their Social Security and Medicare taxes for their entire careers. The Social Security tax he pays also protects him and his family against disability in case anything ever happens to him.

And the university education he received at the lowest cost in the country is a result of those same boomers who have been contributing substantially through taxes to his university for nearly 50 years. It is exciting his generation wants to focus on Social Security, but don't bite the hand that fed you.

Gerald A. Notaro, St. Petersburg

Problem needs addressing

Feb. 2, letter on Social Security

Dipping into the till

The letter writer is justified in being concerned about Social Security's future and lack of attention to it by the presidential candidates.

But he is seriously mistaken to see Social Security payments as merely "the transfer of wealth from the younger generation to the older generation." It was designed to be operated as a pay-as-you-go system. Current recipients have paid payroll taxes for their entire working lives. The problem is that the federal government for the past 40 years has been raiding those funds to finance such budget-breakers as the Iraq war even while lowering income tax rates.

There are two ways for politicians to remedy the problem: One is to raise the limit on payroll taxes to apply to all earned income so that those making a million per year pay Social Security taxes for more than just a month or two each year (no income above $102,000 is currently subject to the tax).

The second way would be to curtail federal expenditures so it is no longer necessary to use Social Security as a piggy bank. Unfortunately, recent history is hardly a cause for optimism that our politicians will lead the way toward a solution.

Tony Branch, Madeira Beach

Unaccountable government

I worked all my life and paid Social Security every week I worked. I resent the "new crop" of Social Security payers saying that they have to pay my way.

Most people do not know or realize that the government kept borrowing against Social Security. If the government had not done that, the baby boomers like me could be paid with the "interest" from that account. I paid for the people retiring before me, as the "new crop" should for me.

When are we, the people, going to make our government accountable?

Ruth Wismer, New Port Richey

A sad excuse for a veterans charity

Jan. 22, editorial

Deplorable traitors

Thank you for exposing the shameful actions of persons using our combat-injured military veterans to line their own pockets. Roger Chapin and his cronies are traitors to America.

I think Gen. Tommy Franks should distance himself from these rogues by donating the $100,000 he received to some worthwhile charity, certainly not one run by Chapin.

I cannot think of anything more deplorable. All of these liars should be in prison and made to pay restitution. It really upsets me because I have donated to hospitalized veterans several times. Wining and dining Mr. and Mrs. Chapin was not my intention.

Keep up the good work and don't let this issue get swept under the rug.

Al Easterwood, U.S. Air Force (retired), Brandon

Demand quality care

Jan. 28, letter

Too many complaints

The writer of this letter condemns Roger Chapin for being a leech in running a scam, masquerading as veterans charity. Fine. But how can he use this as a jumping off point to bash VA medical care?

I have been provided with excellent medical care by the VA for several years now and I'm really, really tired of the whining of some vets.

When I hear people dissing the VA, I wonder how much of their medical problem is the result of poor health choices, such as prolonged use of illegal (and legal) harmful substances, poor diet, no exercise, refusal to participate in preventive care, etc.

Jack Wilhite, Clearwater

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