I read an article recently about President Barack Obama’s deficit commission and its recommendation to eliminate the tax breaks for employer-based health care benefits. Currently, health benefits are not counted as taxable income per the IRS; under the commission’s recommendation, they would be. The article stated that repealing the current policy would raise billions of dollars a year in additional tax revenue.
Regardless, Democrat Alice Rivlin of the Bipartisan Policy Center defended eliminating the tax break and said, “The problem of rising debt is so serious that Republicans and Democrats are going to have to go back and look at almost everything to see how we solve this.”
Also that same edition, I read an article about the Obama administration’s proposal to freeze federal employees’ pay for two years. The savings was estimated to be a few billion dollars a year. The freeze, however, was characterized as “largely symbolic,” as though it really wasn’t much and maybe it shouldn’t be taken seriously by Congress.
I disagree. Let’s take the savings! In fact, let’s freeze a few other items too.
Bottom line is this: If a few billion here and a few billion there out of the wallets of “we the people” is significant, then a few billion here and a few billion there out of the wallets of the individuals “we the people” pay to work for us should be significant too.
Matt Grocott, San Carlos
Praise for WikiLeaks
Though many have chastised and vilified WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, particularly after the disclosure of confidential diplomatic cables, what he has done is probably the only way we will ever come close to getting the truth of what our government is really doing.
He is our true freedom of information act, as he gets the information to us on a timely basis where we have an opportunity to do something about it.
Kenneth L. Zimmerman, Huntington Beach
Rein in pension costs
While it took public employee unions more than $2 million to defeat Proposition B, the city employee pension reform proposition, the issue can not continue to be avoided.
Moody’s Investors Service has now downgraded San Francisco’s bond rating, citing as reasons both the defeat of Prop. B and the fact that “the city ended fiscal 2009 with a balance sheet that was weaker than at any time in the past 10 years.” The next mayor will now inherit a budget deficit of at least $400 million.
The SEIU, firefighters, police officers and nurses unions need to face reality — current cushy pension payouts are unsustainable.
Jim Hartman, Berkeley