Beatles or Stones?

The editorial Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) makes a fine case for the need to reduce entitlement spending, in addition to raising federal revenue ("How to tackle entitlements and avoid the cliff," Sunday). Too bad he takes such a narrow view of entitlements.

The entitlement elephant in the room is the mountain of federal spending on corporate and investor welfare, including tax breaks. They are entitlements even if we also have other names for them. Why, for example, do we lavish huge federal subsidies on oil companies that are rolling in money? Or hugely profitable food giants? What are these, if not entitlements? And what is it about "carried interest" and "capital gains" that protect Wall Street and the investor class from paying at least the tax rates the middle class has to pay? Why is that kind of income favored by tax subsidies, but not the paychecks of regular working people?

Would such tax fairness wipe out Wall Street? Not a chance. As Warren Buffett points out, investors are not about to stuff their billions under the mattress out of pique over higher tax rates.

Yes, we have an entitlement problem. But stop pretending that entitlements don't include the rich.

Joseph W. McGuire, Mount Laurel

Deficit numbers that matter

Candor, intelligence, and goodwill are desperately needed from our elected representatives discussing how to avoid the fiscal cliff. Thank goodness Sen. Pat Toomey has displayed these critical characteristics in his ongoing efforts to resolve our country's problems of deficit spending and debt.

The Obama administration hides behind meaningless 10-year projections of revenue increases and spending cuts. There is only one number that matters: our country's actual financial deficit in fiscal year 2013, which ends Sept. 30, 2013. What matters next are our actual deficits in FY '14, FY '15, and FY '16. Our deficits have exceeded $1 trillion in every year of the Obama presidency so far, and that is not expected to improve under his current budget proposal.

Toomey has stepped forward to show courage and leadership in his efforts to avoid the fiscal cliff. It is time for President Obama to do the same.

David E. Edman, Radnor