Social SecurityThe Marylanders who testified before...

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January 28, 1995

Social Security

The Marylanders who testified before Congress (The Sun, Jan. 10) do have a legitimate complaint with Social Security, but neither the Republicans' nor the Democrats' plans will provide a remedy.

Jean McCauley stated her earnings would reach the Social Security ceiling of $11,280 in June; at that point she will lose $1 in benefits for every $3 she earns above the limit.

While some may argue a 33 percent marginal tax rate is high, it is certainly worthwhile to continue working.

The reason Mrs. McCauley must debate whether to continue working or not is that Social Security will withhold her entire next quarter's worth of benefits as soon as she earns $1 over the ceiling.

Say Mrs. McCauley earns $2,000 a month working, and in addition she receives $1,000 a month from Social Security. By June she will have earned $12,000 for the year, thus crossing the $11,280 ceiling.

Some simple arithmetic tells us she has earned $720 over the limit, and her benefit should be reduced by one-third of this amount, or $240.

Common sense would dictate sending her a check for $1,000 minus $240, or $760 in July. Instead Social Security will send no check in July, no check in August and no check in September.

What if she gets sick and can't work, or she is laid off or simply decides to take September off? Social Security will reconcile her account at the end of the year, but how is she supposed to make ends meet until then?

Instead of needing a raise in the income ceiling, these seniors merely need a change in the Social Security Administration's accounting practices . . .

Allen Smith

Carney

Newest Oxymoron

Has "Democratic Club" become the newest oxymoron?

It must have. According to The Sun Jan. 22, Baltimore County Councilman Louis DePazzo was voted out of the Battle Grove Democratic Club because he exercised his inalienable right to support the candidates of his choice in our most recent "democratically" created free election.

I am a strong supporter of the multi-party system that is a large part of the foundation of our great democratic government. I am a veteran, as are my brother and father, of wars fought to preserve that government and all it stands for.

Therefore, I find the action taken by the Battle Grove Democratic Club reprehensible and bordering on unpatriotic.

Mr. DePazzo's knowledge, experience and political savvy make him an asset to any organization, be it a political club or a county council.

But this Democratic club obviously holds party above all else, including friendship, respect and -- seemingly -- country.

For the record, I voted against Mr. DePazzo. Not because he was a Democrat, nor because he supported Republicans.

Ed Groff

Baltimore

Gingrich Smoke

Newt Gingrich's and his press secretary Tony Blankley's latest slanderous statements are so far out-of-bounds that an apology is called for.

The same week that Mr. Blankley wrote a "sputtering" explanation of the firing of the House historian over the "Nazi" flap, he described pro-health tobacco control activities as "Nazi."

In a New York Times interview, Mr. Blankley said he was unconcerned that his smoking in House chambers might conflict with anti-smoking laws. "I can't imagine that the [anti-]smoking Nazis have any sovereignty here," he said.

Mr. Gingrich and his spokesman have managed to insult Jewish groups and public health interests.

Representatives of both groups have denounced the statement as despicable, although neither Mr. Blankley nor Mr. Gingrich have dissociated themselves from it.

Quite the opposite of Nazis, tobacco control activists are interested in saving lives. Tobacco is by far the number one preventable cause of death and disease in our society.

As a member of the state medical society, I call on Mr. Gingrich to distance himself from this reckless slander which suggests he is more beholden to the tobacco industry and special interests that finance his election campaigns than to the American people.

Joseph Adams, M.D.

Towson

?3 The writer is secretary of Smoke Free Maryland.

Clean the Air

Why all the screaming, yelling and fuss about clear air, auto emission testing, etc.?

The Environmental Protection Agency wants to clean up the air. I say great.

Most people don't want to spend money on emission testing, or repairs to their cars. The auto makers don't want to build cleaner cars, which would increase prices and decrease profits.

Part of the answer may be mass transit. How much of the automobile-generated air pollution could be attributed to traffic back-ups, disabled vehicles, accidents and rubbernecking? When these things foul up traffic, we have too many cars on the road.

In the last several months I have cut my driving time, gasoline expenses and the amount of auto-generated air pollution by two-thirds. How? By joining a car pool with two other people.

Now I have two new friends, more time to read the newspaper, scan my mail, nap or enjoy the scenery along the Beltway.

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