GOP Plan: Middle Class Swings in the Wind
The election showed one thing if nothing else: The American voters are not selfish and self-serving.
They voted for a Republican Congress with a Republican agenda. And if the tax proposal put forth by Rep. Bill Archer, R-Texas, is any indication, then the average voter certainly didn't vote for his/her best interest.
The Republican tax plan will allow the rich to get richer, the poor to get poorer, while the middle class swings in the wind.
Of the nine points of the Republican tax plan, six clearly favor only the rich, two help the middle class and the rich, while only one item has dubious value for the poor.
Here is my analysis:
* Cut capital gains: President Bush kept saying that the majority of people who used capital gains on their tax returns were middle-class taxpayers.
True, but not for stocks and investments in business. Most of the middle class took a capital gain or loss on the sale of their home.
* With the downturn in the real estate market, people who sell their home within seven years usually have a capital loss, not a gain. Just remember that if the capital gain tax is cut, the capital loss deduction is also cut.
If you lose money on the sale of your home, then your deduction for that loss will be cut 70 percent under the Republican tax plan.
* $500-per-child income tax credit: A family of five needed an income of $27,950 in 1993 to qualify.
* Marriage penalty phase-out: This would help most two-income families but doesn't say much for family values, a Republican watchword since Murphy Brown.
* Increased earnings and repeal of tax increase for wealthier Social Security beneficiaries: Clearly benefits the rich, but it does go contrary to the Republicans' desire to limit entitlements.
* Reinstate IRAs for persons earning more than $50,000 a year: The rationale is to encourage savings and to promote investments. If savings and investments are the goal, why not get some of the poor people's money?
Shouldn't the thrift-minded, low-income person be given a break?
* Tax-free "Medisave" health care account: The Republicans' answer to health care -- eliminate the Reagan tax reform requirement that medical expenses must exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income.
* Generous write-offs for business equipment: American executives are the highest paid in the world, taxes in the United States are the lowest in all industrial countries and labor costs are lower here than in Japan, Germany and Sweden. Why does American business need another tax break?
* Tax breaks for oil and gas: Now I understand why most Republicans didn't vote for the Clean Air Act. When most of the world is trying to eliminate byproducts of fossil fuels, the Republicans encourage them. How about a tax break for solar energy?
* Raise estate tax exemption by $150,000: Just another perk for the rich.
Representative Archer also wants to go from our progressive income tax to a broad-based consumption tax -- the most retrogressive form of taxation known.
William E. Norton
In Praise of the Nightstick and Blackjack
In regards to the article headlined "Better training in the use of force urged for police" (Nov. 5), I would like to address the pros and cons of its content as seen from the perspective of a foot patrolman and Drug Enforcement Unit officer, both of which I have been assigned to during my eight years with the Baltimore City Police Department.
The Koga Institute is urging the department to adopt a comprehensive policy on the use of force against suspects and replace the wooden nightstick and ban the blackjack.
I support the institute's findings that a standard policy on the use of force be implemented that would consolidate General Orders, Training Guidelines and Police Commissioner Memorandums.
I fail to understand why the wooden nightstick with the leather thong needs to be replaced.
Recruits in the Police Academy are issued a smaller version of the wooden nightstick that is commonly carried by officers on the street. Instructors at the academy recommend that recruits purchase the larger stick upon graduation due to the inferior quality of the wooden nightstick currently issued by this department.
The leather thong can be used as a come-along tool, or as an extra set of handcuffs. It can also be wrapped around the officer's wrist, preventing a suspect from pulling the nightstick away from the police officer.
The blackjack is an effective tool for narcotic officers who can't carry a nightstick with them. It is small and can easily fit into the rear pants pocket. It is highly effective in a close combat encounter when a larger nightstick would be ineffective.
Some command members feel that the sight of officers twirling their nightsticks intimidates citizens.