Amid the greatest inequities of income and wealth in the nation's history, President Obama and Congress enacted a 40 percent cut in estate and gift taxes, the principal means of keeping this country a middle-class inspiration to the rest of the world since Teddy Roosevelt busted the huge corporate trusts in the years preceding World War I.
Adding to the disgrace is Obama's agreement to enshrine a break for billionaire hedge-fund operators into law. This is the same tax dodge candidate Obama bashed as an unfair giveaway to Wall Street speculators.
With his generous midterm gift to the Forbes 400, Obama continues the direction he set when he showered almost a trillion dollars on Wall Street trading firms, magically erasing their losses from years of speculative poker.
Strange that after he campaigned as the candidate of "change you can believe in," Obama's tax policy reflects the same distorted priorities advocated by Bush.
Arthur J. Bousel
Will all the liberals who have been derisively talking about the "Bush-era tax cuts" now start calling them the "Obama-era tax cuts"?
And while you're at it, can you now speak of "Obama's detention facility in Guantanamo," "Obama's two-front war," and "Obama's recession"? Fair is fair.
As I read Saturday's article "Nigeria drops Cheney charges," which said it had dropped bribery charges involving former Vice President Dick Cheney when he worked for Halliburton in the 1990s, I wondered why was there no mention of President George H.W. Bush's intervening on Cheney's behalf? Or Bush's secretary of state, James Baker?
This is where I think journalists should earn their reputation. The story should have talked about what Bush's involvement cost American taxpayers. The Bush tentacles are always nearby and ready to jump into action. Where is that story?
Dennis M. Fisher
The 20th Amendment sets Jan. 3 as the date for the beginning of the terms of senators and representatives. The terms of president and vice president begin on Jan. 20.
Elections for these officials are always on the first Tuesday in November. This means a lame-duck Congress can be in session from 57 to 63 days, while a newly elected president and vice president have to wait between 74 and 80 days before they take their oaths of office.
Obviously, there needs to be time for transition. But eight to nine weeks is much too long a period for senators and representatives. And 11 to 12 weeks is also too much time for the president and vice president to assume their positions.
A lame-duck Congress should not be tackling any new major legislation, and all of these elected officials should start their jobs on the same date. As far as a transition time frame is concerned, 30 days should be sufficient for everyone.
David M. Levin
Last week, I went to Ambler for a dentist appointment and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ambler had free meter parking for December to encourage shoppers.
Later that same day, I went down to South Street to do some shopping and got a $36 parking ticket literally two minutes after the time on my parking receipt. What a contrast. I guess the Philadelphia Parking Authority would prefer people shop in Ambler. I'm starting to agree.
To our senators and representatives in Harrisburg, I have two comments: One, I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And two, I'm asking you to help more families have a merry Christmas in 2011.
I'm thinking about those who will have a family member or friend killed in an accident caused by a driver using a cell phone. It's time to forget about a law for teenage drivers. The legislature should get going on a law outlawing any use of a cell phone by any driver except in an emergency.
Allentown, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Erie have ordinances against driving while on the phone. Allentown's ordinance makes it a primary offense with some hefty fines. Why can't the legislators get together on a similar bill?
If pet owners want to curb out-of-control pet breeding, abuse, and abandonment, they should start by better regulating their hobby, not passing the cost of their reckless behavior on to taxpayers ("Emergency confab over Pa. animal-shelter crisis," Dec. 1).
Money for shelters can be raised by 1) raising paltry pet-registration fees to $125 annually per neutered pet, and $750 for each non-neutered pet; 2) raising the fine for failure to register a pet to $1,000 for the first offense, and $5,000 for subsequent offenses; 3) requiring each city to conduct a door-to-door "pet census" every two years; 4) lowering ownership limits to three pets per household; and 5) eliminating backyard, basement, and garage breeding.
If pet lovers want to stop pet overpopulation and abuse, perhaps they should stop producing so many of them that eventually wind up in the hands of irresponsible pet owners.