Comments about ‘Letter: Adjusting entitlements’

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Published: Wednesday, Dec. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

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Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

My appeal is to the head, not to the heart. What I will post is not easy to say and will doubtless be considered cold and mean, but if we are ever going to get out of the problem that we are in, then it is the unfortunate truth.

We are trillions and trillions of dollars in debt. The country has added about $16,000 of debt per person in the last four years. We have all been living way beyond our means as a country as we borrow, borrow, borrow. Not borrow to invest or to build capital or infrastructure, but rather to consume. What you propose would be to punish those that achieve and drive the country and reward those aren't working. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce spending by real amounts (1% per year and discard baseline spending increases). Resources will never ever catch up with wants. Overly taxing rich people will just get them to stop investing or flee the country, taking their wealth with them. I'd much rather have a rich person investing and spending then have them stop participating in the economy.

You get what you reward. Simple economics.

  • 6:47 a.m. Dec. 19, 2012
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Makid
Kearns, UT

I think what needs to happen is that all tax levels return to their rates in 2000. We also need to stop subsidizing everyone.

This means that there will be no more mortgage deduction. Why should I or anyone else help you to pay for your house or houses.

No more child deductions. People should only have the children which they can support. No more deductions just because you had a child.

No more oil and gas subsidies. Gas needs to go to where the market wants. The Government shouldn't be keeping gas prices lower than they should be. Let the market decide.

If we did just these 4 things: Return taxes to 2000, remove mortgage deduction, remove child deductions and remove subsidies on gas and oil; Sure the economy would slow down but the debt would be cut considerably. It is estimated that the government pays out about $300 Billion each year in just the Mortgage Deduction, Child Deductions and Oil and Gas subsidies.

This $300 Billion when combined with the $350 Billion from the tax cuts brings us to only cut $350 Billion more each year and we are in the black again. We can do it.

Mountanman
Hayden, ID

Well said Red Headed Stranger! If we continue to reward failure, laziness and bad personal choices with entitlements and redistribution, we will have much more of it at every level in our country, including our schools, our economy and our cultural and technological achievements. If we continue to punish achievement, success and good personal choices, we will have much less of it at every level of our country; our economy, in people's lives, our technological achievements and our entire culture. Don't believe it? Take a trip to the inner cities of Detroit, Chicago, New York and see for yourself what this entitlement culture has produced. And the worst news is that it is spreading! As well intentioned as these entitlements for the poor might be, it is destroying them and our nation with dependency and the lack incentive for personal achievement. A person who is working hard, sacrificing for his future has no need nor time to experiment with drugs, alcohol or gangs. The American dream (to achieve) is dying because of our misplaced compassion.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

"Last year, two nonpartisan government bodies, the Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Service, each undertook studies of income inequality for lawmakers. Both concluded that a major driver in the years leading up to the recession was the growth in capital gains among top earners - but that the cuts also reduced the equalizing influence of the income-tax system. The 2011 CRS paper said tax cuts were the second-largest contributor to the rise in inequality in the decade through 2006.

Conservative economists point out that even after the tax cuts, the rich overall wound up paying a larger dollar amount in income taxes. That's mainly because the incomes of the wealthy kept climbing. The top quintile paid 15% more in taxes but made 30% more money in 2006 than in 1996, the CRS reported.

The Tax Policy Center, a think tank staffed by a mix of economists from both parties, had calculated that 2/3 of the tax savings would go to the top quintile of households and 1% to the lowest quintiles in 2012."

Re:RedHeaded
Where are the rich going to go? They will also pay a huge depature tax when they leave (section 367/877A).

Tekakaromatagi
Dammam, Saudi Arabia

Mountainman: I agree with the idea of eliminating the mortage interest deduction. Being liberal I would want to make it progressive, i.e. eliminate it on the first $200,000 of house, no refinancing, no second homes. The other things you suggest, I think would be like the tax increase that Obama wants: a symbolic gesture that does not add a lot. With regards to the point of the letter, what if we means test for SS and medicare so that the elderly well to-do are cut while the elderly poor are not? What do you think of that? Harry Reid doesn't want to do it, what do you think?

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

RHS:

They won't leave.

There has been serious class warfare going on in this country since the 1980s. The wealthy have won. Not only have they dramatically increased their wealth, but they have also convinced a huge portion of those who are not rich that they deserve even more, that their tax rates are too high, and that we need to cut Social Security payments to those who are just getting by so that the wealthy can be "job creators" (even though most are not employers). This is the biggest snow job this country has ever seen. What a marketing triumph.

After World War II, we were not afraid to require the wealthy to help us pay down our war debt with top marginal tax rates exceeding 90 percent. But under Bush we paid for two wars by doing what? Cutting tax rates on everyone, including the wealthy. Now 35 percent is considered excessive. Believe it or not, when the top tax rates were over 90 percent, the rich still got richer. Imagine that.

wrz
Ogden, UT

@Makid:
"This means that there will be no more mortgage deduction. Why should I or anyone else help you to pay for your house or houses."

The mortgage interest deduction was implemented to encourage home ownership. I think such encouragement is still a good idea.

"No more child deductions. People should only have the children which they can support. No more deductions just because you had a child."

Children are the future of our country. Child exemptions are designed to encourage families. The larger the family the more money it takes to exist. The government shouldn't be in the business of limiting families through tax law.

@Tekakaromatagi:
"... what if we means test for SS and medicare so that the elderly well to-do are cut while the elderly poor are not?"

SS benefits ARE means tested. SS calculations skew benefits to the poor. Look it up.

Noodlekaboodle
Millcreek, UT

@WRZ
Not giving you a discount on your taxes for your kids isn't a tax policy that discourages people from having kids. If you were to implement a tax that you paid when you had children, that's discouraging families. But i've never understood why me having a kid, which will cost the government money for schools and other services, leads to a tax break.

wrz
Ogden, UT

@Noodlekaboodle:
"Not giving you a discount on your taxes for your kids isn't a tax policy that discourages people from having kids."

Whaaaat??

"If you were to implement a tax that you paid when you had children, that's discouraging families."

The government is not/should not be in the business of discouraging families.

"But I've never understood why me having a kid, which will cost the government money for schools and other services, leads to a tax break."

It's designed to cover some family expanses including food, clothing, shelter... and a G4 ipad.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

"An increase in tax to those making over $100,000 a year should be given serious consideration rather than decreasing cost of living for those who can least afford it".

----

Only $100,000 per year? Assuming a person has a family, a mortgage, is saving for retirement, one hundred thousand really isn't that much. It seems like a lot because in childhood we all remembered it as a lot, but a lot of inflation has happened since then.

Makid
Kearns, UT

The Government shouldn't be in the position of pushing anyone into anything. By allowing the mortgage deduction, the Government is saying you need a house. It is also saying that states, counties and cities must supply those houses with utilities, roads and schools.

Without the deduction, homes would actually be a luxury item, people would live closer to their neighbors, air pollution would decrease, gas would be cheaper, open space would be plentiful and agriculture would would have more space which would lower costs for food transportation.

With the Government supporting home ownership, everyone has had their costs increase, all to benefit private business. That isn't the role of Government.

The same applies to deductions for children. If you can't afford a child, the Government shouldn't be giving you a deduction. All this does is increase the costs to the Government. People will still have children and everyone else isn't having to pay the cost for it.

Until we actually discus the removal of these deductions, real deficit reduction can't be reached.

Grover
Salt Lake City, UT

Newsweek has an article this week that compares the USA to the socialists up north...Canada. They have no mortgage deduction in their tax system. The article makes the point that the average size home in Canada is 1800 sq. ft. where here it is 2,300 sq. ft. They call it bad economics since Americans end up borrowing more to buy houses and then cutting back on retirement savings to make up for it. But then again they are clearly not as exceptional as we are.

Owl
Salt Lake City, UT

Increasing taxes would certainly be more palatable if there was more confidence that our government would spend the money wisely and without waste or corruption. They haven't done well recently.

Mr. Bean
Ogden, UT

@Makid:
"By allowing the mortgage deduction, the Government is saying you need a house."

The government shouldn't allow other deductions either, such as medical bills, state income taxes, state property taxes, and charitable contributions. Instead allow just a simple 'standard' deduction. After all, the government should have at least some degree of compassion for it's citizens to keep body and soul together. And that average deduction should be adjusted upward as the cost of living increases.

"The same applies to deductions for children."

Children need to eat... and go to the movies. They need cash for that.

"Until we actually discuss the removal of these deductions, real deficit reduction can't be reached."

The most effective way to reduce the deficit is for the government to stop growing and to stop spending more than it takes in each year.

VIDAR
Murray, UT

Either only give social security to those who have the financial need; or lower the amounts for everyone on social security.
We cannot afford what we are paying out now; We certainly cannot afford cost of living adjustements for a program that is no longer taking in enough to support it; social security is bankrupt.
With all the babyboomers retiring it is estimated social security and medicare will take up over 3/4 the federal budget in the next twenty years.

Miss Piggie
Ogden, UT

@Owl:
"Increasing taxes would certainly be more palatable if there was more confidence that our government would spend the money wisely and without waste or corruption."

Very unlikely scenario... unless we can clean house and get new people in there... and that includes the White House. These people we have running the government now seem to get a euphoric kick outa spending other people's money. Obama and his wife for example, they spend millions on European vacations. And now that they are locked in the White House for another four years we will likely see this grow by a significant number. We know the national debt is calculated to grow to $20 trillion or more in the next few years. And there's zero chance this trend will reverse in the foreseeable future. God help us.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Just who owns this world, anyhow? Just who owns this nation? If it’s “we the people” like it says in the Constitution, why have we allowed a tiny minority to grab all the wealth and power for themselves?

Why haven’t we at least made sure that even the weakest of us have the basics of life, liberty and some pursuit of happiness?

No we don’t want to put unreasonable limits on a persons ability to garner wealth, but just like our other freedoms, the freedom of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, requires that we limit the rights and freedoms to the extent necessary to allow all to participate.

Some of those rights and freedoms we would limit might be the special preferences given to wealthy people in the ways they earn and pay taxes.

On the other hand we need to take our rightful control of the financial activity of business operations. Business must be made to serve the people and not some foreign owners.

Flashback
Kearns, UT

We need to have a constitutional amendment that requires Congress and the President to live by every law they pass, take away their golden parachutes, make them pay into their own pension plan and make them be in Social Security and Medicare. The Fiscal Cliff negotiations would take an entirely different turn if that were the case.

one old man
Ogden, UT

Yet who are the most ENTITLED among us?

Could it be Congresspeople like Orrin Hatch et al who boost their pay every year? Who receive free medical care from taxpayers? And lifetime pensions?

Could it be our governor who is looking for a 36% pay increase?

Could it be our bankers who lobbied to gut regulatory laws until they became entitled to risk the assets of depositors on shady schemes to enrich themselves and their CEOs?

Could it be mortgage companies that devised adjustable rate mortgages they knew would destroy the dreams of so many families and then suckered people into buying them?

Could it be the heads of large corporations like WalMart and Hostess who consider themselves entitled to huge salaries and bonuses while cutting worker's pay and benefits until many of those employees must depend upon food stamps?

Perhaps before we adjust any entitlements, we need to define exactly WHO is entitled -- WHY they are entitled, and to what.

Flashback
Kearns, UT

Hey Bob, keep spouting your Socialism. If you want business to be responsive, vote with your feet. You don't like how a company is doing business, then don't do business with them, or buy enough stock that they listen to you.

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