IRS pursues cases that pale in seriousness to Rangel's

From Alan J. Dlugash, partner,
Marks Paneth & Shron LLP

I found the article “Conservative watchdog group targeted Rangel” (Feb. 3) to be quite disturbing. It described a number of pretty serious, well-defined and specific instances of wrongdoing on the part of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), with evidence coming from a number of sources in addition to Peter Flaherty and Ken Boehm of the National Legal and Policy Center.

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The article then cites a number of instances of Mr. Rangel’s outrage at these accusations — with not so much as an attempt to refute any of the specifics. Why give Mr. Rangel’s outbursts any credibility? And why are the charges not being pursued?

As a tax professional myself, I help people every day fighting the IRS on circumstances much less compelling than those of Mr. Rangel.

New York City

No ‘hard choices’ in military spending

From Steve Cobble, co-founder,
Progressive Democrats of America

The Pentagon is facing “hard choices” on its budget, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says (“Gates: Economy will curtail defense spending,” Jan. 27). It’s hard to imagine Gates has any hard choices given that the Pentagon budget is bigger than at any time since World War II.

Back in the reality-based universe, it seems pretty obvious that major cuts in the military budget are necessary. Given that, some choices become easier, like not committing to massive, long-term, extremely expensive weapons systems.

For instance, why not start by shutting down the most expensive weapons system ever, the over-budget, delayed, not-yet-working-properly F-35 Joint Strike Fighter?

Why not cancel the V-22 Osprey, a technical failure so lame that even Dick Cheney once tried to cancel it? And can someone tell me why we need the Virginia Class submarine or the DDG-1000 destroyer?

Let’s end the occupation of Iraq. Even better, let’s not turn around and waste all those savings in trying to occupy the trap of Afghanistan.

Since America was founded in opposition to empire, let’s close several hundred of our provocative overseas military bases, and let’s not turn space into an armed atmosphere — that would save billions.

And as President Obama has suggested, we should slash our nuclear stockpiles here on Earth, saving billions more.

Washington

Heart-to-heart

From Susan Bennett, M.D., American Heart Association spokeswoman

The economic downturn is forcing many Americans to make drastic changes in their healthcare decisions to cut expenses. But women in particular need to understand that skimping on healthcare may cost them more in the long run because heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular diseases remain their No. 1 killer.

As a cardiologist, I am concerned that many women are unconvinced of their heart health risks and in these hard times may forgo doctor visits, recommended medical procedures and medication. That’s why I am a strong supporter of the HEART for Women Act (www.heartforwomen.org), federal legislation that would help raise awareness among women and their healthcare providers about the prevalence of these diseases, prevention programs and the most effective treatments for women.

It would also expand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISEWOMAN program, which provides access to screening and lifestyle counseling for low-income, underinsured and uninsured women. This legislation would give women more health options, more answers and a fighting chance to beat this largely preventable disease.

Washington