Letters to the Editor
Readers offer solutions to the unfair alternative minimum tax and campaign-finance corruption.
To ease middle-class tax burden, fix the AMT
In response to the April 13 article, "A dreaded tax is slated to be fixed": I wish Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York the best in his mission to eliminate the AMT this year.
I am a retiree living on a fixed income and greatly fear the impact of this tax on me and on the great middle class of this country.
The failure to have already taken action is a disgrace. There is plenty of revenue to be had from taxation of the exorbitantly wealthy by restoring the taxes that have been unfairly cut. All it will take is determination to do the right thing.
Regarding the April 13 article on legislative action against the alternative minimum tax: The chart, "Where your tax dollars go," that accompanied the article could leave the impression on some people that all the items on the chart are funded by the federal income tax. But Social Security and Medicare are funded by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), which is collected on only about the first $95,000 of income. All income above that is exempt from those payroll taxes.
FICA currently brings in more money than is spent on Social Security and Medicare, so FICA money is "borrowed" to fund other parts of the government. What makes the alternative minimum tax (AMT) so pernicious is that it results in the highest burden of all federal taxes falling on those who earn between $65,000 – the income above which AMT applies – and about $95,000 per year.
Limiting discussion of taxes to the federal income tax, while including all federal programs in a discussion of spending, helps create a false impression that is used to justify further cuts in the federal income tax, further borrowing from FICA funds, and a further shift of the overall tax burden to the middle class.
Let campaign finance benefit all
In response to Daniel Schorr's April 13 Opinion column, "The best president money can buy": Mr. Schorr's idea that nominations from the major parties should go to candidates who raise the most money does not go far enough.
We Americans can dispense with the general elections, too, if we really think this idea through. Instead of elections, why don't we simply auction off nominations and award them to the highest bidders. That would give people the right to bid for the offices that are available.
The revenues from the highest bids would go into the general treasury. Since we know that offices are often held by people who are beholden to special interests and individuals who are most adept at raising funds, why don't we simply spare ourselves the blather of election campaigns and add a little to the general treasury before successful bidders take office and begin to drain it?
At least that way we would have the sense of a momentary profit, which many of us do not currently feel after an election.
Duke: Teach students civil rights
Regarding the April 13 article, "Duke case spurs US colleges to clean up campus culture": It would be gratifying to read that these same colleges teach their students the rudiments of certain basic legal rights. Under federal and state constitutions, each citizen is guaranteed fundamental rights such as a presumption of innocence and a fair hearing. What a discouraging example Duke University has become of political correctness run amok.
Paul F. Perreten
Old Saybrook, Conn.
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