Readers Write: Congress ignores calls for tax reform; Political families teach service

Letters to the Editor for the weekly print issue of May 14, 2012: The responsibility for long-term fixes to the tax code rests with the US Congress, but the code has increased by 13,564 over the past eight years. Political families aren't un-American dynasties; they're examples of service.

Congress ignored calls for tax reform

The April 16 cover story, "The IRS code talker," initially instilled great hope for a much needed simplification of our federal income tax code, since the National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, was described in the following terms:

1. "She has been a consistent crusader in particular for simplifying the federal tax code...."

2. "Perhaps Olson's most basic message over the years has been the need for tax simplification."

Upon reading the article further, however, I learned that Ms. Olson has held this job for 11 years, and that during this time the number of pages contained in the US tax code has not decreased, but has increased dramatically (by 13,564 pages in just the past eight years).

The responsibility for long-term fixes to the tax code rests with the US Congress, before which Olson regularly testifies. Apparently, for the past 11 years, Congress has effectively ignored the "most basic message" of Olson and her staff of 2,000.

Although not intended, this cover story makes the prospect of meaningful income tax reform appear very bleak indeed.

Joseph M. Hall

Issaquah, Wash.

Political families teach service

In his April 16 commentary, "Kennedy and Bush families are never far from politics," Walter Rodgers makes some good points about political families. But I think he missed the fact that family background is an entry point to politics that can also work well – at all levels of government.

Examples abound of children following their parents into elected positions at the federal, state, city, and local level. When I briefly lived in the county seat of a rural county in Ohio (pop. 500), I met a young secretary at the hospital where I worked who was only in her early 20s but had already been elected the town clerk, following in the footsteps of other members of her family.

This is a time-honored way of entering public service, and I have to think that learning how to "serve" from one's own family is a good thing for this country.

Not all family traditions are bad.

Robert Mohrman

Portland, Ore.

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