Letter: Washington's vital fiscal choices

A trader works on the floor of the

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as investors remain focused over ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations. (Nov. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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The more I read about the fiscal cliff, the more inclined I am to agree with Lane Filler [" 'Fiscal cliff' would provide a pound of cure," Opinion, Nov. 30]. Let's jump.

When I recall June 2001, when the present tax rates went into effect, I don't recall saying to my wife, "see how much our take-home pay went up!" I do recall paying for three kids in college and wondering what happened to those "can't miss" Internet stocks.

Events larger than a few dollars less in our bi-weekly paychecks will have a greater effect on our standard of living. Meanwhile, we would be making our economic future brighter.

Bruce Schoenberg, Smithtown


President Barack Obama and the Democrats insist that their budget proposal takes a balanced approach to solving the "fiscal cliff" ["Over the 'cliff': billions in taxes," Business, Dec. 6]. Yet their initial proposal would raise $1.6 trillion in new taxes, demand complete presidential control of the U.S. debt ceiling, and exclude any reform of Obamacare or the Alternative Minimum Tax.

With the implementation of Obamacare in 2013, an additional 800,000 private sector jobs are anticipated to be lost over the next eight years. Most alarming is in 2013 the AMT is set to expand from affecting 4 million to 28 million taxpayers, with single incomes as low as $48,450 and joint filers making $74,450. Failing to address the AMT in his proposal contradicts the president's concern about raising taxes on the middle class.

The most optimistic estimates assert that allowing the Bush-era tax cuts to expire would raise $70 billion a year in additional tax revenue. However, a controversial study by Ernst & Young estimates that the expiration would result in the loss of 710,000 jobs.

During Obama's first term, gross domestic product growth averaged 0.8 percent. Targeting a GDP growth rate of 4 percent would reduce the growth of our deficit by $4.8 trillion over 10 years without reducing entitlements or raising additional taxes.

The House of Representatives is right to question Obama's frivolous budget proposal that spends more than it takes in while exacerbating current elevated levels of unemployment.

Michael P. Mulhall, Rockville Centre

Fear not! The Mayan prophesy that the world will come to an end on Dec. 21 will not come to pass. Neither President Barack Obama nor House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could come to terms on the arrangements for such an event.

Steve Bernstein, Old Bethpage

Regarding "D.C. needs a compromise" [Letters, Dec. 2], the writer argues for closing the "loophole" that allows municipal bond interest to be tax-free, since it allows "millionaires and billionaires" to collect tax-free income.

First, a large segment of the population enjoys the benefit of tax-free municipal bonds, either directly or through mutual funds.

Second, municipalities depend on the tax-advantaged nature of these bonds to pay for their needs. Municipalities save millions. If you removed this feature, bonds would have to be issued at higher rates, effectively costing cities, towns, counties and school districts much more than they currently pay or can afford.

Municipal bonds are a win-win.

Frank Aimetti, Hicksville

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Our president faces choices. The first and only real choice is to play the game as it has been played since 1980: Water down any change, and offset it with appeasements that placate some and please none. Treat all but the richest people in this country like frogs in a pot where the temperature is being raised one degree an hour so they don't notice they are being boiled to death.

A second choice would be to champion ideas that would make a profound difference but are opposed by deep-pocketed adversaries. Single-payer health care would allow American businesses a chance to compete in the global marketplace. An overhaul of our tax laws would stop investment bankers and hedge fund managers from unfairly extracting the wealth produced by our workers. Return tax rates to pre-Reagan levels, and allow us to repair our failing infrastructure. Create a national educational system that puts deserving students through college at no cost. The strongest economies on this planet do all of these things.

William Binnie, Lake Grove


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