Less tax is better
In regard to the David R. Francis column "Obama commission won't cut deficits. Congress will": Mr. Francis stated that the capital gains tax rate should be increased above 15 percent. But Illinois tried taxing businesses at a higher rate, and businesses either failed from overtaxation or left the state. Caterpillar is an example of a company considering leaving Illinois.
What is needed to encourage more new business is less taxation, not more.
Private money for nuclear power
Regarding the editorial for March 1, "Yellow light for nuclear power": Approving more public loans to build nuclear power plants is the worst use of taxpayer money.
President Obama had large campaign donations from nuclear-power industries; he should recuse himself on this. That I know of, nuclear power has never found private financing from Wall Street, and has never found a safe way to dispose of nuclear waste. It is wishful thinking to hope that these flaws will be over soon.
Taxpayer funds will make far greater reductions in dangerous emissions by increasing energy efficiency and backing solar- and wind-power production. Let the nuclear industry fund itself – from private investors.
Martha E. Martin
Do the math on testing
Regarding the article "Obama overhaul takes flak from both parties," (March 18):
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claims the Obama administration wants to build more "local flexibility" into the No Child Left Behind law. That is true only to the extent that the administration proposes to de-emphasize standardized testing of student reading and math skills in holding school districts accountable.
In the place of those basic knowledge tests, the administration plans to fund a new form of "authentic" assessment championed by Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, a key Obama education adviser.
These tests feature open-ended questions probing students' worldviews and critical-thinking prowess, with scoring done by teams of outside evaluators inevitably using subjective criteria.
As a condition of receiving billions in federal school aid, states would have to use these dubious new assessments in tandem with the recently released Common Core curricular standards.
Do the math, and you come up with a federally imposed curriculum subject to political influence and offering local schools far less flexibility than they now have.