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Letters to the Editor. Reagan's legacy

September 24, 1985



``Ronald Reagan heritage: greatness or not?'' [Aug. 22], by Douglas MacArthur II, states that our country's federal debt problem is critical and something must be done about it by Congress and the White House. He implies that certain special-interest groups, such as social-security recipients, need to bite the bullet and accept reductions in their payments. However, what is not mentioned is that some special-interest groups, such as US corporations, are no longer paying their fair share in federal taxes.

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Between 1960 and 1984, corporate tax revenues have decreased from 25 percent to 8.5 percent of all federal revenues. Because of the ``accelerated cost recovery system'' and the ``investment tax credit'' programs, $65 billion a year in corporate revenues are lost to the federal Treasury. If nothing is done to change these ``loopholes,'' by 1990 the federal government will lose $121 billion yearly in corporate taxes.

Before poor people and the elderly are asked to make sacrifices, corporate America should kick in its fair share. Steven Soifer Plainfield, Vt.

Initially, MacArthur earned my favor when he implied there is something wrong with the trend in government spending. Yet regarding ``supply side'' economics, he states ``[the] supply side economic theory has proved a devastating and costly illusion.'' Beginning in 1981 -- when tax cuts were enacted -- through 1984, we witnessed annual growth of GNP at 6.4 percent in the first seven quarters of the 1983-'84 recovery vs. 5.5 percent for the same period in the five previous recoveries; an increase in busin ess investment by 1.7 percent of total growth rate vs. an average of 0.6 percent in the past; a nonresidential investment of 16.0 percent of real GNP in plant and equipment from the fourth quarter of 1982 to the second quarter of 1984. Have tax cuts proven to be devastating when business grew, employed more people, and increased GNP?

He points out that tax reform ``is not essential at this critical time, and Reagan's tax reform proposals would have actually increased the deficit.'' Later, he says the escalation of the deficit is the ``fault of the White House and lack of effective leadership by the President.'' Hasn't the President already initiated tax reform by enacting supply side tax cuts in 1981? Is it the President's fault that the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 has limited his power to control spendi ng by preventing line-item veto? Isn't the tax reform package a logical extension of the political mandate to stop excessive taxing in promotion of a welfare state?

No person or Congress can change past and present public attitudes of excessive spending and welfare handouts. Don't we want to retain the self-reliance, individuality, and innovation which has made this country great? Elisha George Pierce Oak Park, Ill.

On what criteria of statesmanship, leadership, or good sense do we assess a US president by economic policies only? Even by these myopic standards, the Reagan record is open to grievous question.

What of the Reagan decision to terminate US participation in the United Nations Law of the Sea process? What of the fiasco in Lebanon, the gamesmanship with arms control, nondiplomacy with the Soviets, 7 percent unemployment, the butcher-block approach to social concerns, environmental policies under James Watt, a secretary of labor under indictment, the continuing nuclear buildup? The deficit fiasco is not an aberration; it is consistent with the larger picture which MacArthur ignores.

If this is success what, pray tell, is failure? John Schwarz Ann Arbor, Mich.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''