Swiss bank probe is hollow given Cabinet’s tax failings

Beginning approximately four months ago, I was treated to an IRS audit, my reward for exiting the stock market just before its precipitous decline. The first notice zeroed out all the entries on my Schedules A, B and D, and assessed me roughly $32,000 in back taxes owed, interest and penalties.

The second notice was an invitation to waive my rights to proceed in court.

It was only when convinced I was dealing with a computer that I wrote to a supervisor. The return was then actually examined, and the amount owed dropped to around $300 on three items, two of which I had clearly listed and one that was an honest oversight resulting from erroneous reporting to me from a financial entity. I recalculated and promptly paid the $15.43 I owed, thinking that would end the matter.

Nope. The IRS demanded its 77 cents in interest — no Obama-appointee treatment for me! As I write the check, the president’s admonishment that he wants UBS and other Swiss banks to stop harboring tax cheats rings in my ears. What about the fleecer in his Cabinet, who heads the Department of the Treasury, overseeing the IRS? What about his nominees who never were confirmed because of tax issues?

If our leader wants other countries to be more transparent about their bank accounts, shouldn’t he have started by keeping his house, the White House, in order?

Alexandria, Va.

How freight rail helps economy

From Edward Hamberger, president and CEO, Association of American Railroads

In his Jan. 28 letter to the editor, “Including profitable railroads in stimulus would be travesty,” Frank Wilner makes two off-base assumptions. The first is that stimulus funds should only be directed to failing companies; the second is that shareholders would be the primary beneficiaries of freight rail investment. Neither could be further from the truth.

Freight railroads are a true American success story. By making wise choices and sound investments over the past quarter-century, they have created the lowest-cost rail service in the world. Railroads are already investing billions of dollars to revitalize and expand this rail system, but public policy should encourage rail growth as well. Freight rail is the most cost-effective way to move the things we use every day; since trains carry more than 40 percent of America’s goods and commodities, we all save when freight moves by rail.

But the benefits don’t stop there: investing in freight rail would also create tens of thousands of well-paying American jobs and inject millions into the economy. The Department of Commerce estimates that every dollar spent on rail investment yields three dollars in economic output.

In addition, by creating more capacity, freight rail investment creates a cleaner environment (freight trains pollute one-third as much as trucks, which run on publicly financed highways), greater fuel efficiency (freight trains move a ton of freight an average of 436 million miles per gallon of fuel), and less traffic on the highways (a single intermodal train can haul the load of 280 trucks).

Members of Congress should keep the benefits of freight rail flowing to America by encouraging continued investment and keeping the smart, balanced regulation that has helped the industry thrive for the past 25 years.


Bankrupt thinking

From Bill Northrop

Nationalization reflects the bankruptcy of intelligent thinking. Officials’ only problem-solving ideas have been to talk about it, pour money on it, or to buy it. When you have unlimited funds (someone else’s) and blank checks you can do that. And, that’s been called creative. Could it be that government is not the answer?

North Redington Beach, Fla.