President Obama sold his birthright for a mess of pottage ("President faces anger from party," Wednesday). Not only would these concessions to GOP fat cats increase our national debt, but they also would further increase the immense chasm between the wealthiest and poorest citizens. Consider:
Extending the Bush tax rates for two years is not a fair trade for extending unemployment insurance for millions. A much better "deal" would be to extend upper-level tax rates for one year, during which Congress would make the tax code fairer and plug loopholes that drain needed revenue. This would also settle matters in a nonelection year; pushing it to 2012 is asking for political mayhem.
A 2 percent payroll-tax holiday would further erode needed contributions to the Social Security system and necessitate more drastic cuts to keep the system solvent. It would be much better to use some of the remaining stimulus funds for tax refunds across the board, as was done last year.
Raising taxable limits on the "death tax" is disgraceful. Wealthy people wanting to shelter inheritances for their children already have tools to do so.
Alison B. Graham
I am not surprised that we are having no success negotiating with Iran ("Iran gives little ground in talks on nuclear program," Tuesday). If President Obama negotiates with Iran as forcefully as he did with the Republicans, we will be under sharia law by Christmas.
I have three questions about the Bush tax-cut extension:
Do Democrats think the country has no memory? When the Bush tax cuts were passed in 2001 and 2003, Democrats said these bills did nothing or very little for the middle class and the poor. Now, not extending the cuts for the poor and middle class would be devastating. Which statement is true?
Why are the tea-party folks not taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks over borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars from the Saudis, the Chinese, and unnamed others to pay for this extension?
Do elected officials really think we are so stupid as to believe that the administration and Democrats in Congress will call for raising taxes when they campaign for reelection in 2012?
President Obama has caved in to Rush-publicans on the tax cuts for the rich. This deal reminds me of Chamberlain and Hitler at Munich.
When you "negotiate" with bullying thugs, they are emboldened to attack again and again. At Munich, the Allies were not prepared to push back and they got "peace in our time" - after a while. In this case, the Democrats have weapons: the veto, the presidency, and a Senate majority. However, in January, expect to see a rerun of the Rush-publicans and Democrats playing "Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football."
Robert D. Eckel
To an unemployed person a tax cut or tax increase is meaningless. Politicians need to focus on creating demand in the economy to put people to work. Until then, haggling over tax rates is just a sideshow.
The writer of the letter "There's no 'right' to air travel" (Friday) is wrong. Air travel is a means of transportation that we pay to use. We do not turn off our constitutional rights as if turning off water. They are eternal. We have inalienable rights, and the Fourth Amendment guarantees the right to be secure in our person. Being touched and groped or X-rayed because you are going to board a plane is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Once liberty is compromised in this way, it becomes harder to restore. We need it restored now. We are America.
I stand firmly with Benjamin Franklin, who said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Carol A. Spagnola
I was struck by the range of human behavior detailed in front-page Inquirer articles Monday. The first, "Ex-justice sought project fee for her son," showed self-serving behavior against the common interest. The second, "Long way back," showed determination and endurance in the face of adversity.
Matt Miller, in completing an Ironman Triathlon after a near-fatal accident, shows us what humans are capable of accomplishing. Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Sandra Schultz Newman, in promoting her son for a public construction project, shows us what we read about day after day. I hope public officials can take a lesson from Miller and do things that they can be proud of.