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September 16, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Advice for the deficit-reduction committee

Posted by Letters editor

Revenue must be part of the answer

Editor, The Times:

The deficit-reduction committee must see that both spending reduction and revenue increases share equally in their report to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives [“How would you reduce nation’s budget deficit?” Opinion, Sept. 14].

The blackmail use of draconian cuts in defense and nondefense spending must not become a ploy to eliminate revenue increases from bearing an equal share of deficit reduction.

— William Iulo, Bainbridge Island

Combination of cuts, taxes

We have to deal with the debt and deficit as they exist, not as we wished they were. Both are so large that the only answer is a combination of spending cuts and increased revenues. “Discretionary spending” and “earmarks” are so small as to not merit attention. The big three that must be dealt with are Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and defense.

Social Security: Raise the age of retirement for those under 50 incrementally; means testing for benefits; index benefits to wages, not cost of living; slight rise in payroll tax.

Medicare/Medicaid: The problem is health costs that are paid for by these programs. No. 1 problem: no incentive for beneficiaries or hospitals to care about cost, get healthy, or change lifestyle. Until that is tackled, not much you can do here. That leaves increasing taxes to pay for this juggernaut or cutting benefits. Do both.

Defense: Absurd that our budget is equal to the rest of the world combined. Cut it 5 percent a year for 10 years.

Income taxes: We need more revenue. everyone should pay something as their duty as a citizen; simplify the code and eliminate social engineering via “credits”; increase rates and/or reduce deductions, including phaseout of anachronistic home-mortgage deduction.

— Douglas M. Duncan, Redmond

Stop whining

So glad you asked! Would first like to qualify myself as a senior on Social Security and Medicare, as well as a homeowner and 27-year real estate professional. I usually vote as a Democrat.

— Get rid of the mortgage-interest deduction. The industry will survive, as will homeownership, and improve for being leaner and more fair at all income levels.

— Clean up Medicare and get rid of the drug benefit. It encourages overuse and rampant abuse. Medicaid can take care of the neediest cases.

— Increase taxes on Social Security for higher income levels.

— Tell all those comfortably well-off recipients of government subsidies to stop whining and enjoy their incredibly fortunate lives.

— Jeanne Erdahl, Sammamish

Raise the retirement age

The payroll tax relief is making the situation worse. To solve the Medicare and Social Security issues, they should add two months a year to both Medicare and Social Security for the next 30 years starting Jan. 1, 2012. This would make the retirement age 71 in 2052. Additionally, the early withdrawal from Social Security should also be indexed so the early retirement in 2052 would be 67.

Medicare should be restricted to those drawing Social Security at the medium retirement age (65 should be 66) and indexed along with Social Security. All other programs should be handled through Medicaid at a state level.

— Michael O’Donnell, Burlington

Focus on health, energy

It is imperative that entitlement spending be reduced in an ongoing manner so that within a decade people begin taking care of themselves better than they are now doing.

To “kill two birds with one stone,” new taxes should focus on the huge problems of health and energy. First, tax sugar drinks and fat snacks which will help to reduce obesity and all of its costly problems. Second, tax gasoline even more than now to raise funds for alternative energy sources.

— Norman Reed, Kent

Revenues, military, health care

The deficit should be reduced in three basic ways: raising revenues, reducing military spending, and reforming the health-care system.

Revenue: Make the income tax much more progressive (we’re currently paying the lowest taxes in 50 years) and impose a financial-transactions tax, which would mostly affect wealthy investors and has been called for by several European countries.

Military spending: End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and reduce the size of the military and its footprint across the world. Change our foreign policy to one of diplomacy and multilateralism, like normal countries.

Health care: Extend Medicare to everyone. It’s substantially more efficient than private insurance, and the government’s bargaining power would force down costs.

— Chris Nielsen, Shoreline

Control spending

Federal government spending is out of control. It is borrowing 42 cents of every dollar it spends. Our budget deficit is now $1.3 trillion, or is it $1.6, and growing. Our debt is $14 trillion plus. This cannot continue.

We are in a recession. Raising taxes would only increase unemployment and reduce GDP. The only way to reduce the deficit is to cut federal spending, especially entitlement spending.

— Walter A. Appel, Lynnwood

Return to Clinton tax rates

On the revenue side: Go back to the Clinton rates. I have no problem with “closing loopholes” as long as it generates the same or more revenue as the Clinton rates. In fact, I prefer closing loopholes to increasing rates as long as it generates the same or more additional revenue.

Most revenue comes from the middle class so taxes need to go up on this group but the Clinton amount seems like the right target.

— Patrick J. Russell, Seattle

All-cuts plan not tenable

On the same day that you feature the news that one in every six Americans lives in poverty, it’s evident that “we, the people” cannot survive the continuation of an all-cuts budget plan.

Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid must be preserved, with caps to contribution removed. Until the upper-income citizens start to pay their fair share, we will not have any balance, further eroding our democracy and guaranteeing our place as a low-wage, poverty-ridden country.

Are these our new “values”?

— Bonny Oborn, Seattle

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