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Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of June 28, 2010

Readers write in about taxes, and progress Obama has made.

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An Eisenhower-era tax idea

It strikes me as odd, given the topic of David Francis's column in the June 14 issue, "Pressure building to cut US deficits," that he didn't aggressively develop ideas for increasing tax revenues inasmuch as our nation has high expenditures but a rather moderate overall level of taxation by world standards.

His list of ideas might have included returning our income and estate tax levels to what they were during the Eisenhower administration, with the various tax brackets adjusted for inflation during the intervening years. There would be accusations that it would "hurt" the economy, but those making that claim would have to explain why our economy was rather robust in those years but now is very sick after years of lower taxes.

Further, Mr. Francis lists a suggestion by Maya MacGuineas that we raise the age for receiving full Social Security benefits and create incentives for seniors to stay in the workforce. Social Security is funded by a dedicated tax, and not at all from general tax revenues, so how would the proposed delay (reduction) in benefits reduce the national deficit, rather than just increase unemployment?

My guess at the answer is that the federal government must now start to repay the Social Security surplus funds it previously has borrowed. In other words, Social Security beneficiaries will have their benefits reduced to help deal with the general deficit. What's fair about that? I like my Eisenhower tax rates idea much better, and I believe that most other Social Security participants will also.

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