- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Democrats have a strange definition of 'marriage bonus'

The House vote to end the "marriage penalty," passed by a 268-158 vote that included 48 Democrats, is a long overdue attempt to relieve the tax burden on the overburdened American family by cutting income taxes $182 billion over 10 years for all married taxpayers. The family is our best weapon against a host of societal ills, and President Clinton's threatened veto only exposes his hypocrisy regarding those he says "work hard and play by the rules," the 21 million families who pay a penalty on their taxes for being married, averaging $1,400 per family.

Democrats complain that half of the bill's total tax cut would go to couples who receive what is called a "marriage bonus," which occurs when one spouse doesn't work or makes much less than the other; but only in the fevered imagination of liberals, who believe that all money belongs to the government, would this be considered a "bonus." It's our money.

Why should the federal government discourage moms and dads from being able to stay at home with the kids? If a couple chooses to raise their family on just one income and have a parent stay at home, they will need all the financial help they can get. To imply that a stay-at-home mom gets a "bonus" and is not entitled to half her husband's income is ridiculous.

We use the tax code to reward and encourage other worthy things, such as home ownership through the mortgage interest deduction. If there is any group that should be politically favored, it should be married couples. For example, children raised in a two-parent family are less likely to be raised in poverty, less likely to do drugs, less likely to be criminals later in life and more likely to do well in school and graduate.

The family is still the best department of health, education and welfare ever invented. It's time to shore up family life by letting husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, keep more of their money. Instead of spending tax dollars on after-school programs, how about cutting taxes so one parent can afford to stay home?

DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago

Difficult to watch the commander and chief present medal of honor

It has taken me a couple of days to calm down enough to send this letter about the television pictures of President Clinton presenting the Medal of Honor to Army Spc. Alfred Rascon.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Rascon is deserving of this nation's highest award. But to receive it from a man who not only lied to avoid serving his country and demonstrated against those of us who were called or volunteered to serve at our country's call left me, as one who proudly served his country during the Vietnam War, with tears in my eyes and a pain in my heart.

Is there no end to the hypocrisy of this poseur? Can he really fail to understand that his presence at such a solemn occasion tainted the honor this country bestowed on Mr. Rascon for his extraordinary service and sacrifice? With his and his administration's widely acknowledged contempt for the U.S. military, every scene of him standing next to a member of the armed forces is a blow to those of us who not only proudly, but also honorably served our country.

MASTER SGT. STEPHEN F.

MINGER

U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Fort Washington

A drive to return towed cars after presidential visits

I was amazed in reading the Associated Press story in your paper about the practice of police towing vehicles in the vicinity of presidential stops, even such events as a breakfast, for security purposes ("When president is on the move, so may your car," Feb. 13).

Given, perhaps, that the only way to protect our chief executive is to tow vehicles for blocks around, wouldn't it be even more amazing if we had a culture that produced individuals and leaders in our protective services and chief executives who felt compelled to rectify the confusion their actions create?

After the president has moved on, they should make a sincere effort to put the cars back. An arrogant "walk all over everybody who isn't my boss" attitude can generate the same arrogance in lower levels of the government. We end up with abusive and self-important bureaucratic regulators. How can we expect our federal employees to be "human" in their enforcement of endless regulations if their top boss, the president, sets a bad example through his lack of simple courtesy towards the public?

If the protective services had respect for their fellow citizens, I am sure they would have rejected the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue as too extreme when it was first suggested.

JAMES KALSHOVEN

Seabrook, Md.

Foundation clarifies main points of their study on violence

We appreciate the acknowledgment from William Buckley Jr. ("Poverty and crime prevention," Commentary, Dec. 22) that our recent update of the 1969 National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, chaired by the late Milton S. Eisenhower, is correct in cautioning that fear and endemic violence are at least as high now as 30 years ago. We also appreciate his acknowledgment that reduced joblessness since the economic expansion began in the '90s is part of the explanation for the shorter term reduction in violent crime over recent years.

But Mr. Buckley misses our main point: Based on scientific evaluations over the past 30 years and on the prosperity of the '90s, we are in an enviable position "to establish justice and insure domestic tranquility" (the name, from the Constitution, of the Eisenhower Commission's original 1969 report). We know that corporate welfare, affirmative action for the rich, boot camps, New York City's "zero tolerance" policing and expansion of the prison industrial complex have not established justice (as illustrated by the racial bias in our drug sentencing system) and have not insured domestic tranquility (as evidenced by the failure of crime and fear to decline in the long run, since 1969).

Nor does Mr. Buckley acknowledge what does work, based on good science, to simultaneously establish justice and reduce violent crime. For example, proven successes that we discuss in our update include safe havens after school for inner-city kids, public school innovations like Yale professor James Comer's national strategy in which parents and school staff manage decentralized schools, the Ford Foundation's Quantum Opportunity adult mentoring of inner-city high schoolers, Boston's version of efficient-but-community-friendly policing, the conservative state of Arizona's cost effective diversion of nonviolent offenders into community programs that has reduced both recidivism and costs, and the San Francisco Delancey Street enterprise development miracle in which ex-offenders go straight and become financially self-sufficient.

Mr. Buckley is incorrect that the nation's unconscionable 23 percent poverty rate for children age 5 and under is due to single-parent households. As the Urban Institute recently concluded, it is true that children in single-parent families and poor states are more likely to be poor than those in two-parent families or high income states. But most of the income gap among children is not because of family type or state of residence. Rather, it is because of differences in the income of the adults the children live with, concludes the Urban Institute.

This being so, Mr. Buckley needs to support job training for decent jobs, combined with good day care for such households. Perhaps he also might join us in condemning the immorality of supply side economics that gives to the rich and takes from the poor, the working class and the middle class?

LYNN A. CURTIS

President and CEO

Milton S. Eisenhower Foundation

Washington

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