- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Maryland senators' shameful votes on taxes

Earlier this month, Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes and Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrats, voted against the repeal of the federal estate tax and a fix of the "marriage penalty" tax. Shame on them.

Either these Democrats really like taxes or they went along to get along with the party line, saying these tax reductions are not affordable. Perhaps both reasons apply.

The estate tax is the third tax on the same money. It is a tax to punish families and small businesses. The estate tax is designed by people such as Mr. Sarbanes and Miss Mikulski to punish success and reward those who complain about not getting enough government handouts. So it fits very nicely with the Democratic Party plan for controlling voters.

The income tax penalty for married couples is hard to fix because of the complicated tax code. An outright appeal of the income tax would be the best way to fix the marriage penalty, but until that time, the plan passed by the House and Senate is about as good as Congress can do.

Maryland voters should remember Mr. Sarbanes in November. He has earned a targeted cut at the ballot box one that will send him back to earn a living like the rest of us.

WILLIAM J. SKINNER

Potomac

Summer vacation not the reason teachers choose the profession

I usually don't disagree with anything on your Commentary page, but now I must. I take issue with Stephen Moore's "Worm in the education apple" (July 20).

As a teacher and member of the American Federation of Teachers, I think the points Mr. Moore tried to make about teachers were wrong. Did he ever ask real teachers if the reason they chose teaching was to get summers off?

I happen to teach summer school and take graduate courses during my "time off." Certainly, there is not a fair way to reward teachers based on their performance or the test scores of their students, but most teachers are committed, and if there were an ideal school setting for each of us, we would work for even less pay.

Please take a jab at another profession, Mr. Moore, because teachers work for every penny they get.

BONNIE M. RODNEY

Washington

Investment in Colombia not in best interest of U.S. taxpayers

The July 18 editorial "Colombia's war is also ours" makes the argument that because Colombia is the source of much of our cocaine and heroin, American taxpayers should be supportive of recently signed legislation that gives the Colombian government $1.3 billion to fund its drug war.

This argument rests on many shaky assumptions, but I will concentrate on only two. First, with the level of corruption and the difficulty inherent in monitoring how funds are actually spent, it will be nearly impossible to measure the effectiveness of this expenditure or whether the money is actually used to stop the flow of drugs.

Second, even if Colombia's government does make a good-faith effort to curtail the flow of drugs and succeeds, this could drive the price of cocaine and heroin higher. Thus, it will become economically attractive for other drug producers to fill the void and continue the flow of drugs.

Surely the American people would rather have the $1.3 billion in their pockets to pay for prescription drugs, retirement savings or a family vacation. Instead, we are being forced to throw money at a problem in a foreign country over which we have little control.

PAUL J. GESSING

Policy associate

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria

EPA's response may be too little, too late

That the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers the U.S. National Assessment on Climate Change report to be an "excellent example of how an open, inclusive and scientifically sound peer review process should work" ("More to EPA report on climate change," Letters, July 19) belies the extent of the agency's political agenda.

At the very least, the controversy surrounding the report, from scientists and policy-makers alike, should indicate that its birth was unconventional. Accusations such as those leveled by Rep. James F. Sensenbrenner Jr., Rep. Ken Calvert, the Cooler Heads Coalition and others are not thrown around lightly in a scientific context. The claims involve deliberate law violations with respect to the drafting and review of the report, the presence of an overt political agenda in the report's content and timetable and willful inaccuracy in the report's projections.

One doesn't have to trace too high up EPA's organizational flow chart to divine the reasons for the agency's abrupt public-relations about-face. Few EPA officials expect to retain their positions under a Bush administration, and under a Gore administration, only strict practitioners of global-warming doom-saying could hope to excel.

In light of the EPA's earlier, more forthright comments, this politically driven lifesaver may be too little, too late and no more than an embarrassment for those concerned.

ANDREW GROSSMAN

Assistant policy analyst

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

A vote for privatizing Social Security

In the article "House OKs increases in retirement accounts" (July 20), I was pleased to read statements by Rep. Sam Gejdenson, Connecticut Democrat, that confirmed the realization that Social Security cannot be relied upon by those of us who are far from retirement. In reference to a failed proposal to rebate low-income families up to $1,000 to supplement money set aside for personal savings, Mr. Gejdenson stated, in his support for the failed proposal, "It makes sure those that have the least in this society have a little bit of retirement security."

It appears that Mr. Gejdenson is making two points. The first is that Social Security cannot be relied upon, in the long term, to provide even a little bit of retirement security. The second point is that $1,000 directly invested by "the poorest of the poor," as the congressman refers to them, provides a greater benefit to the individual than an additional $1,000 contribution into the Social Security system (It seems Mr. Gejdenson has more faith in the American people than the vice president does).

I think it's refreshing to read that a Democrat understands that individuals, not the government, are in the best position to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, I believe Mr. Gejdenson is misguided in his support for a direct subsidy on personal savings. Since Mr. Gejdenson believes that it's in the best interest of the American people to personally save for retirement, I hope he realizes there has been an idea proposed that will allow every working American to save without taking an extra penny from their pockets it's Texas Gov. George W. Bush's Social Security plan.

TOM DARNALL

Oak Hill, Va.

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