- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2000

Gore would make taxpayers 'trained seals'

The final debate between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore showed the clear distinction between the tax plans of the two candidates.

Lisa Key, a member of the audience, posed the question: "How will your tax proposals affect me as a middle-class, 24-year-old single person with no dependents?" Mr. Gore answered with a series of ifs: If you decide to invest in a savings account, you'll get a tax credit; if you want to purchase health insurance, you'll get help with that; if you are part of the bottom 20 percent of wage earners (Ms. Key is not), you will get an expanded earned income tax credit; if you have an elderly parent needing long-term care, you will get help with that.

In summary, if you, as Rep. John R. Kasich recently described it, are a "trained seal with an accountant" and you pass the hurdles Mr. Gore proposes, you will get tax relief. But, as the late Sen. Paul Coverdell was fond of saying, you shouldn't need an accountant to do your taxes and an attorney to defend you from the IRS after you file.

In the far less complex Bush plan, if you pay taxes, you get a tax cut. Sure, he has targeted proposals and credits in his plan as well. Unlike the Gore plan, however, his will benefit everyone who pays taxes, with or without attorneys and accountants to sort out the details.

DONALD R. STEWART

Annandale

Day care blessing, not a burden

I would like to clarify what was written about me in the Oct. 18 article "Newest mothers want life at home." While separations from my child were difficult and involved tears (on her part) and anxiety (on mine) during the first days of day care an almost universal experience for those making the transition from home to day care, this period was short-lived, and the day care experience has been an enormously positive one for both my child and me.

My daughter looks forward to her very active days of playing and learning with her friends and through the guidance of an expert and loving staff of teachers at Georgetown University's Hoya Kids Learning Center. Having a good working life depends, as I stressed to your reporter, on knowing that your child is receiving high-quality care in a safe and loving environment. My daughter is getting that every day. Hoya Kids Learning Center provides excellent care for my child and has made my dual role as working parent possible as well as enjoyable. I would not want it any other way.

MARYBETH MCMAHON

Washington

Missile defense encourages proliferation

Jack Spencer and Michael Scardaville's selective analysis of a recent spate of missile tests relies on a huge red herring ("Missile defense and the arms race," Commentary, Oct. 18).

The authors erroneously claim that President Clinton's decision to leave the issue of national missile defense to his successor led to the subsequent test of a Shahab-3D missile by Iran, Syria's test of a Scud-D missile and Libya's acquisition of 50 Nodong missiles from North Korea. Conveniently omitted is the fact that these missile developments all occurred within a week after Israel successfully tested its Arrow 2 anti-tactical ballistic missile system. Since the above missiles are all tactical missiles capable of threatening Israel but incapable of reaching U.S. territory, the recent wave of proliferation in the Middle East, if a response to anything, is a response to Israel's burgeoning anti-missile capabilities, not Mr. Clinton's decision.

Mr. Spencer and Mr. Scardaville unwittingly prove this point by arguing that the Syrians are trying to outfit the Scud-D with multiple warheads in hopes of foiling Israel's Arrow 2 theater missile defense system.

The authors also claim that Russia tested its Topol-M missile in response to Mr. Clinton's decision. In fact, Russia began testing the Topol-M in 1994 and is adapting it to overcome any future U.S. anti-missile systems.

If, as the article assumes, anti-ballistic missile systems deter proliferation, why do Iran, Syria and Libya seem unfazed and even provoked by Israeli missile defenses? Why is Russia determined to preserve its retaliatory strike capability against possible U.S. defenses?

The lesson from the Middle East and Russia is that missile defenses encourage proliferation. If the U.S. proceeds with deployment of its own system, it will learn that lesson the hard way.

STEVE LAMONTAGNE

Research analyst

Council for a Livable World Education Fund

Washington

Military's new hats can't disguise lack of readiness

This week Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki announced in a speech to the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army that, starting next year, all Army soldiers will wear black berets, replacing the fold-up overseas caps, the saucer-like service caps, and the battle dress uniform caps currently in use.

Gen. Shinseki said he got the idea last week at a change-of-command ceremony for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. "As I stood looking at those (soldiers), I was reminded of the special significance that the beret has come to symbolize for the United States Army," he explained. Army paratroops, Rangers, and Special Forces soldiers already wear maroon, black, and green berets, respectively, and will continue their use.

This is not a new idea, but it is certainly a discredited one. In the mid-1970s, during the malaise of the post-Vietnam reductions in force and reduced defense spending (sound familiar?), the Army briefly experimented with berets, worn with the fatigue uniform in a bewildering variety of colors depending upon the soldiers' branch (armor, infantry, etc.). The result was impractical caps that provided no warmth, no shade from the sun, were quickly dirtied, and, being made of felt, were not durable.

Discarding the berets, the Army experimented for a time with baseball caps that had the dubious virtue of making their wearers' heads resemble pineapples, before settling on the camouflaged battle dress uniform caps currently in use that provide a useful sun visor and ear protection for cold weather. The coffee-can shape resembled designs of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

As for also discarding the fold-up overseas caps and the saucer-like service caps, this would discard traditions of Army caps dating back more than 100 years; almost half the Army's lifespan. Few students of military history would fail to recognize a photograph of young George Patton in France during World War I, standing before a Renault tank wearing an overseas cap. And I recall how proud I was to be entitled to wear, after promotion to major, a service cap with the traditional scrambled eggs on the visor denoting field grade rank earned after many years of service.

Gen. Shinseki seems to want to disregard these previous failures of his new idea and discard traditions dating back at least half the Army's life. But it's not really simply a new cap at issue here for the new cap he proposes is merely a fig leaf intended to cover the profound decrease in Army strength and readiness that has taken place on his and this administration's watch. Let us hope that the coming election will enable us to do something more meaningful about our nation's defense than selecting a new cap.

JOHN MERCER

Major, U.S. Army (Retired)

Alexandria

Bad deal

I was stunned by your Oct. 17 lead story, "Letter shows Gore made Russian deal."

Vice President Al Gore's decision to cover up conventional arms sales from Russia to Iran, and his cooperation with the Russian president to camouflage Russian assistance to Iran's nuclear program violate the spirit and the letter of U.S. nonproliferation laws.

The best face that can be put on this "foreign policy initiative" is one of shockingly poor judgment; the worst is violation of U.S. laws and treason.

PEYTON RANDOLPH

Austin, Texas

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