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Letters to the Editor

April 26, 2010

Republicans didn't cause all of our problems



To the editor:

Jeff Driscoll made several good points in his April 12 letter to the editor ("Don't blame all of our problems on Democrats," page A4).

I share his concerns about the growing national debt, but certainly cannot agree with his solution of six more years of support for President Obama. His analysis of the problem also has some serious flaws.

President Bush and the Republican Party disappointed many conservatives in the area of domestic policy, contributing to the problem of overspending on the federal budget. But the federal deficit was not due to the tax cuts of either Reagan or Bush, as Driscoll suggests. He has bought into the standard, typical answer advanced by liberals and their friends in the national media. This explanation is simplistic and seriously flawed.

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There is a great irony about those who claim the Reagan tax cuts decreased tax revenue when just the opposite actually happened. The Reagan tax cuts brought about a 17-year economic boom from 1983 to 2000 that created 55 million jobs along with federal tax revenue that more than tripled. It was an incredible run.

Driscoll offered us a history lesson, but left out a couple of salient points. Budget deficits did go up during the Reagan presidency. You might recall how bad things were when Reagan began his term in 1981 with an 18 percent inflation rate and a prime rate of 21 percent. Keep in mind, Democrats were running Congress. When Reagan submitted a budget with any reasonable restraints on spending, Democrats promptly declared his budgets "dead on arrival" and advanced spending along their merry way, often overriding a Reagan veto.

President Clinton likes to take credit for getting a balanced budget and his fans still brag about it. But the long-term economic boom was started by Reagan. Long-term investments in capital equipment and job creation did not happen overnight.

Clinton announced he was going to undo the Reagan tax cuts, which he claimed favored the rich, raising the top tax marginal rate to 39.6 percent. This enhanced tax revenue for the short term, but going from 28 percent to 39.6 percent hardly undid the Reagan tax cuts when the top rates were 70 percent in 1980. It did cause an economic slowdown, however, by 2000, just when George Bush was elected.

Something else happened that seems counterintuitive unless you study the facts. For both the Reagan and Bush tax cuts, the percentage of all income taxes paid by the rich actually increased. The rich took their money out of tax shelters and invested in the stock market, providing capital for larger companies, or they started businesses of their own. They were engaging in taxable activity, making money work for them, instead of using less productive tax shelters. This was the key to more jobs and more tax revenue.

Our debt situation has grown a lot worse recently, increasing by $1.6 trillion in just the last 12 months, with February of this year racking up the all-time one-month record of $233 billion. The new health care bill will make things worse and, typical of all such federal programs like the Bush prescription drug program Driscoll mentioned, will cost far more than projected. Funny thing about passing out "free money" - the line gets real long pretty fast.

Unfortunately, President Obama seems bent on adding more and more programs, guaranteeing a decidedly worse situation over time. We will see the federal debt increased by more than all of our previous 200 years of history by the current president if he should be in office until 2017.

Again, I would agree that Republicans added to overspending and downplayed the deficits when they were in charge. I hope some of them have learned their lesson. With the influence of the tea party on the political scene, I am a bit optimistic that the right kind of change can happen starting this November.

Voting for Democrats this fall and for Obama in 2012, as Driscoll suggests, seems to me the height of folly.

George Michael
Williamsport




Candidate seeks to bring ethics back to politics



To the editor:

My name is Ralph Jaffe. I am a political science teacher. When I first started teaching in 1964, I told my students that Maryland was one of the most corrupt states in the union.

Fast forward to 2010. Nothing has changed. This is why I am now a candidate for governor in the September 2010 Democratic primary. I want to put a stop to the moral bankruptcy in Maryland politics and replace it with a new word - ethics.

My platform is based on five principles.

1. I will not accept campaign contributions because they are disguised bribes.

2. I will have no dealings with paid professional lobbyists.

3. I will serve one term only. This way, I'm not in the campaign for power, fame or personal wealth, but rather, I want to be a good public servant.

4. I will tell the truth all of the time, not some of the time.

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