Readers write

Additional bonds will float Social Security

Regarding your Feb.12 article "Call off the 'crisis'? Social Security's solvency grows": The article says it's time to "call off the crisis" regarding Social Security, particularly if the annual trustees' report, due in March, delays the trust fund's insolvency date beyond its current 2037.

But we could make the fund solvent forever simply by issuing additional bonds. What really matters is Social Security's unfunded liability - the amount owed to future retirees over and above payroll taxes.

The 2000 trustees' report increased Social Security's $19.6 trillion shortfall by almost $1 trillion, and the upcoming report will undoubtedly show a further rise.

Lacking reform, these deficits can be made up only through trillions in tax increases, benefit reductions, or cuts in other spending programs. That's still a crisis.

Andrew G. Biggs Washington Social Security Analyst, The Cato Institute

Does everyone benefit from tax plan?

As I read your Feb. 9 article "Tax-cut plan may keep growing, and growing," I was most alarmed by the benefits shown in the chart displaying taxable income, and savings, by bracket.

The "married couple filing jointly" taxable income brackets of $30,000, $60,000, and $120,000 show savings under the Bush plan of: $0, $1,800, and $7,200. As percentage savings they translate to: 0 percent, 10.7 percent, and 19 percent.

What happened to the "everyone benefits" promise made by George W. Bush during his campaign? Also, why does the percentage of savings increase as the income level increases? I do not remember ever hearing that the percentage savings would increase as income increased. The objection that this plan was primarily for the wealthy appears to be true.

Robert Manning Mosier, Ore.

Global campaign against Sharon

Regarding Helena Cobban's Feb. 9 opinion piece "Sharon, the peacemaker?": Ms. Cobban's description of Ariel Sharon as a "physically commanding man who exuded raw power," while subtly derisive, is at least accurate. But that's about it for her one-sided article. Her strange assumption that Mr. Sharon will make a "withdrawal-based peace with Israel's former enemies" is wildly off base. He most definitely will not, nor should he.

What about a recognition that Israel exists and is welcome from its Arab neighbors? What about an end to the ferocious anti-Semitic campaign of jihad throughout the Muslim world?

Sharon was elected because Israeli voters have come to the belated understanding that the Palestinians may not actually be "partners for peace."

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak chased Yasser Arafat across half the globe in search of an agreement. What he got instead was a constant shifting of the goal posts, to the point where Jerusalem became the final deal breaker.

The country with the blue and white flag was established as a safe haven for the Jewish people. They've learned, after the Holocaust, to no longer put their security in the hands of others, because those "others" have a tendency to vanish.

Zionism may be a dirty word to some, but not to those who've lived through the horrors of the 20th century.

Sharon has brilliantly defended the Jewish people on the field of battle for most of his life, and the global campaign to vilify him is despicable.

Michael Disend San Francisco

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