>Capital gains tax cut is still a sound idea
The Jan. 31 News story, "Under Bush, the wealthy got much wealthier," said the income of the country's 400 richest people had doubled since 2001 because President George W. Bush cut their tax rate from 22.9 percent to only 17.2 percent, according to IRS data. It said: "The data may provide ammunition for Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who say they intend to increase the capital gains tax rate. President Obama pledged during the campaign to increase the rate."
But this same IRS data shows that in 2001 these people paid $12 billion in taxes to the government from a 22.9 percent tax rate on their $53 billion income. In 2006 their taxes increased to $18 billion from the lower 17.2 percent tax rate on their income, which had grown $105.3 billion. So Bush's tax cut for the 400 richest people actually provided $6 billion more tax money absorbed in programs helping the poor.
Bush's capital gains tax cut was one of Democratic President John Kennedy's better ideas -- "a rising tide raises all boats." Obama promises, "When I see a better idea, I'll use it," but he also pledges not to.
>Don't impose new tax on massage therapists
In December, Gov. David Paterson released the executive budget plan for 2009-10. In an effort to reduce a record $13.7 billion deficit, the budget recommends increasing and extending taxes and fees on a number of small business activities. If the recommended budget is passed, massage therapists in particular would be singled out for a new tax that would put many of us out of business.
Massage therapy is a form of health care recognized by the National Institutes of Health and licensed and regulated by New York State. Most visits for massage therapy are for treatment of pain symptoms. Health insurance rarely covers massage therapy, therefore, taxation of individuals who are already paying out-of-pocket to relieve their pain literally adds insult to injury. Massage therapists are trained and skilled health care providers, and their services should not be lumped in with amenities such as manicure or barbering.
Fifty-eight percent of massage therapists are self-employed. The task of collecting and paying a service tax could greatly increase the time spent on the administrative duties of owning a practice. This tax should be withdrawn from further consideration.
James C. Hufnagel, LMT
>Beautification projects should be put on hold
I live in Lockport and appreciate the historic nature of the locks, but I believe their restoration must be put on hold. Not forgotten, just put on hold until this economy stabilizes. Fix school roofs, but wait on athletic fields. Repair roads, but wait on the Buffalo canal project.
There are so many non-essential albeit worthy projects all over Western New York. But beautification projects are not essential in this economy. Expansion of culture must be curtailed for a time.
We all know tax dollars are not being used wisely in this struggling economy. That's why we have so much debt at all levels of government.
People need tax relief. We need job security. In my family, this means the ability to pay for essentials like food, gas and utilities. It means paying bills on time and staying out of bankruptcy. Being able to pay for a night out at a theater, restaurant or sporting event -- it means hope. This is what President Obama promised. I call it the pursuit of happiness.
With the spending plan currently in Congress, all I see is hopelessness. The money must get to the people of Main Street, U.S.A., before we are all homeless, cold and hungry. These are desperate times.
>Hard-working citizens are fed up with taxes, giveaways
What is the problem with the Democrats paying their taxes? Recently, it was determined that Democrats Charlie Rangel, Tom Daschle, Caroline Kennedy and Timothy Geithner have failed to pay their taxes or have "tax issues." During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden said paying higher taxes is the patriotic thing to do.
An example of the Democrats' hypocrisy is New York Gov. David Paterson. He wants hard-working New Yorkers to pay higher taxes while he increases funding to the welfare program, but mandates less enforcement, making it easier for individuals to get welfare and government health coverage. Paterson eliminated some anti-fraud measures, which include fingerprinting, an asset test and face-to-face interviews.
Hard-working Americans who pay taxes are fed up with the Democrats and their policies of higher taxes and giveaways. Maybe they would feel the same way if they paid their taxes.
>Funding family planning is cheaper in the long run
Congress did America a grave disservice when it cut a measure from the economic stimulus package that would make it easier for Medicaid to cover family planning health services. While some may say that Medicaid and family planning aren't related to the economy, and shouldn't be included in the stimulus, that logic is faulty and based on a narrow understanding of economic principles.
It would cost hundreds of thousands less in tax dollars to provide services such as the pill to prevent unwanted pregnancies than to provide state-funded medical care, child care, and welfare benefits to the unplanned children who result from said pregnancies. This would bolster state budgets, such as New York's, which are on the verge of collapse.
Further, women who could access birth control through Medicaid rather than paying out of pocket would save their families hundreds a month, which could then be used to purchase food, housing, vehicles or any number of goods. That would be a lot more economically stimulating than a one-time check.
>No one representing middle-class workers
Watching Gov. David Paterson's State of the State address, I looked around the room to see the state legislators, the leaders of state agencies, the heads of the public employee unions and the leaders of the teachers union. I realized there was no one in that room who was representing my interests -- a middle-class New Yorker who makes his living in the private sector.
James W. Williams