Obama budget lacks detail on BRAC, Afghanistan war

ncertainty around U.S. military base closures has caught some attention (“Obama campaigned against military base closures now in his budget,” April 10), but uncertainty about the ongoing U.S. war in Afghanistan has gone largely unnoticed. In fact, there is so much uncertainty around President Obama’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan that the government can’t even properly budget for it — unlike the base closures, which did have a budget request.  

“Final decisions about the pace of the drawdown in Afghanistan have not yet been made” according to the budget request. “As a result, the Budget includes a placeholder for DOD’s 2014 [Afghanistan and Iraq war] funding, equivalent to the amount provided [$96.7 billion total, $88.5 billion for Afghanistan] in the President’s 2013 Budget.” This is a remarkable admission by the administration. 

In his February State of the Union address, Obama announced the U.S. would withdraw 34,000 troops — roughly half of the current force — in one year. Few other details about the pace of this withdrawal, the nature of continued U.S. involvement or the long-term future of U.S.-Afghan relations have emerged, alarming many members of Congress and Afghans alike. 

Perhaps most alarming is that the administration has even less to say — at least publicly — about how it will work with Afghans to manage the withdrawal of significant U.S. funds and political support over the coming year. At a minimum, we need a plan to manage this withdrawal and mitigate financial and political instability.  

The Obama administration should announce its plan for the pace of troop withdrawals, as well as its political and economic transition plans. Eliminating strategic and budgetary uncertainty is a crucial part of ensuring any transition is as smooth as possible — base closures and war alike. 

Washington, D.C.

Income tax  has biggest impact on the economy

From Roy T. Newsom

Congress and President Obama continue to disagree on ways to fix our economy while avoiding the real solution. The income tax is the real culprit. It is driving business overseas to avoid its penalizing effects. H.R. 25. the Fair Tax Act, would change that. Every worker would receive their full paycheck without payroll taxes or income taxes deducted. Businesses would not have to pay an income tax or report any activities to the IRS. Imagine the effect of a consumption tax that would allow that to happen. The economy is expected to grow by 10.5 percent the first year H.R. 25 is enacted. Exports are predicted to grow by 35 percent the first year. How is that for stimulus?

H.R. 25 has been shelved within the House Ways and Means Committee for many years. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the committee’s chairman, has indicated they will be considering alternative tax proposals this year. He has assigned committees to study them. The income tax lobby is the largest lobby in Washington, D.C. Congressional members use it to buy votes and paybacks. It will take a grassroots movement to overcome that. Call your congressperson and demand they support the Fair Tax. 

Granbury, Texas

Support the Fair Tax bill to help businesses thrive

From Anthony Gasbarro

Our federal tax code is broken. There have been more than two changes to it every congressional day for 20 years. It is so complicated that many IRS employees can’t explain it accurately. It is 72,000 pages long. A tax code that has fostered an industry — tax lobbyists, who outnumber D.C. elected officials by a 32-1 ratio. The government picks winners and losers. We’ve become so smart, but we’ve lost common sense.

A bill in Congress, H.R. 25, remedies the above. The Fair Tax replaces taxes on income with a tax on consumption. You decide how much in taxes you pay. It’s simple: no forms to fill out and no records to keep. Politicians can’t adjust provisions of it to give advantages to special interest groups or supporters. All citizens are granted a prebate to cover the tax on basic goods and services. Without taxes on income and employment, businesses thrive as their costs go down. Without the burden of our current tax system, our manufactured goods become competitive worldwide. Well-paying jobs return. The economy and our children’s future are saved without spending one dollar on stimulus. Call your congressmen today and ask for his support for the bill.

Fairhope, Ala.

Republicans bribed not to make change to code

From Norm Stewart

The Republican Congress will not allow tax increases under any circumstance. If they persist, the 99 percent of us will have to pay more or have services cut. The only people who will pay more if taxes are raised are the richest people in America. So why do we, the average guy who makes a living, support the Republicans, and why do Republicans refuse to allow the very rich to pay more? 

Simple. The very rich give money to political campaigns, they offer paid appearances for politicians and golf outings to far-away places. The reason why Republicans won’t raise taxes on the very rich is they are bribed not to. In private industry and for all the rest of us, bribery is a criminal offense and can lead to prison. In Congress, it’s another day at the office. 

The facts are, it is to all our benefit for the rich to pay more and not have us pay more.

Aventura, Fla.