Crapo, Simpson haven't solved fiscal problems
I was intrigued reading the guest column authored by Sen. Crapo and Rep. Simpson. I am curious. Is there any particular reason both of them have failed to realize that these problems have been in existence at least as long as they both have been serving us in Washington? And they have done what?
As long as our congressional representatives require big donations to fund their campaigns and assure their political careers, nothing will be done.
If either Crapo or Simpson had the intestinal fortitude to propose legislation to cut all subsidies and all tax loopholes to all individuals and corporations, perhaps it would start a chain reaction. A flat tax to all individuals and corporations would have us all contribute our fair share to government programs.
Idahoans have had opportunities to boot both Crapo and Simpson down the road several times. Unfortunately, the majority opted to maintain the status quo. Sadly, nothing changes.
SKIP DAVIS, Weiser
Sequester might be the only solution
In President Obama's speech several weeks ago, he in essence said, "Now is not the time to cut government spending. It will put our fragile economy at risk." If not now, when the government is bleeding red ink at the rate of trillions of dollars, when? Government never shrinks when the economy is good; it grows like cancer.
The looming sequester, while a very blunt instrument, may be the only way we ever get a decrease in government spending. Our legislators, on both sides of the aisle, through many administrations, have shown us very clearly that they don't have the guts to make the necessary cuts - they are too worried about being re-elected. They are so far from reality, we no longer even debate that the government should not run a deficit. We debate how much of a deficit is acceptable.
Our political system is disgustingly dysfunctional. Most of our lawmakers and the presidency were engaged in raising money for their own re-election or for their respective parties for the last 12 to 18 months. Is it any wonder nothing is being accomplished?
LAYNE CREA, Meridian
Senators overlook personal waste
Response to "Senate even losing money on haircuts," by Lynn Hulsey on Feb. 18: If the Senate were serious about paring government expenditures given today's pressing need for fiscal austerity, one would hope their attention would first turn to leading by example. Why should taxpayers subsidize the Senate Hair Care shop to the tune of $340,000 annually? Isn't a yearly salary of $174,000 sufficient to pay for a senator's own haircut? Where does the largesse end?
I am enraged that our elected representatives conveniently overlook their personal wastefulness perpetrated by their elitism. Would that the Senate turn a critical eye on its own superfluity and lack of statesmanship to pare Senate "entitlements" as it contemplates cuts to my upcoming and meager Social Security benefits for which I personally paid! Build my faith by getting in the game, senators.
GAYLE R. EATON, Boise
Obama runs up debt, then blames the GOP
Even the far-left blog "Daily Beast" admits that sequestration was Obama's idea and there is no question that after it was passed Obama was pleased - in November, 2011, he threatened to veto any efforts to avoid his sequester, which he is now flying around the nation like Chicken Little (or is it Pinocchio?) screaming "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" and blaming Republicans.
To put the amount of the sequestration cuts into perspective, it is around $85 billion of a $3.7 trillion budget - a cut of only around 2.7 percent! Working Americans had more than that cut from their pay in January when payroll taxes were partially re-implemented.
To give you an idea of the scale of the sequestration cuts compared to the total budget, we will be running a deficit of around 45 percent of the total budget - that's a deficit of over $1.6 trillion, or nearly $4.4 billion deeper into debt every day. Simply put, the sequestration cut of $85 billion will pay for less than 20 days of the obscene deficit this president is running up, and has run up, every year he's been in office!
KENNETH HUSTON, Garden City
Obama, Democrats manufacture crisis
As a federal civil service retiree, I have been a political pawn for several administrations, mostly Democrat. Government shutdowns, furloughs, reduction in force, etc. In reality, nothing really happened, and no disasters occurred. This "Sequestration Crisis" is being manufactured by Obama and his Democrat demagogues to frighten people into accepting more deficit spending.
Now that it seems it may happen, Obama is actively decrying his own plan, and demagogues like Luckovich are doing their best to try to get folks to blame the Republicans. Yet which house passed two budgets during Obama's regime? The Republican-controlled House of Representatives. And which house refused to pass them? The Democrat-controlled Senate.
Obama told us that first responders will be out of a job, ignoring the fact that they are not paid by the federal government. It's just another of his unending emotional appeals. No air traffic controllers, no meat inspections, no teachers, ad nauseum. Enough with this panic pandering. Democrats always propose cuts to essential services but none of the fat. We can reduce spending without affecting essential services.
It's your plan, Obama. Why are you fighting so hard to convince the people otherwise?
SCOTT A. JONES, Council
Spending cuts were the president's idea
Obama is doing an about-face on the automatic spending cuts otherwise known as the sequester. It was his idea to raise taxes and cut spending.
Now that the taxes are going up, he's changing his mind about cutting the spending. He's using scare tactics once again to delude the masses into thinking we can't do without the government's vast bureaucracies. No day care, great job losses, blah, blah, blah. Why is he spending us into oblivion - $6 trillion more in one term. Unbelievable! He's had two vacations so far this year. Is there no end to this man's audacity. He's our president, not our king!
It's time to tighten the belt, Congress. It's the only way America will wake up to the craziness going on in the White House. Call your congressman, let the cuts begin!
RENE MCSHERRY, Boise
Nation's defense at risk
It is important for members of Congress to know that they are risking our national security by failing to address the fiscal needs of our defense forces.
The Army's chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, spoke at the Association of the United States Army's (AUSA) January Institute of Land Warfare breakfast in Washington, D.C., and his message was clear: "Our national security is at risk because of the fiscal uncertainty that we face today."
The numbers are sobering - a $6 billion shortfall for FY13 in Army operation and maintenance accounts because Congress has failed to pass appropriations legislation and the Army must spend at the FY12 budget levels. If sequestration triggers on March 1, another $6 billion shortfall will occur. Combined with other underfunding, the total shortfall for FY13 could be $17 billion - in wartime!
AUSA has been urging Congress to solve the sequestration puzzle quickly and we continue to highlight the significant dangers posed by sequestration and the repeated use of continuing resolutions to fund the Department of Defense.
The fiscal process must be put back in order so that our defense forces can maintain their readiness and their ability to defend this nation.
MARSHALL O. TOWNSEND II, Gem State Chapter President, AUSA, Meridian
NUCLEAR SNOW JOBS
Governor, commission open door for waste
Butch and the boys want to do it to us again. In case you blinked, the governor proposes to preserve and create jobs at INL by accepting even more nuclear waste at the Arco site.
Environmentally, the site is already a disaster. Hazardous waste (chemical and nuclear) has been dumped into the aquifer (drinking water for 300,000 people). On-site workers have developed any number of diseases attributable to radiation exposure, cancer in particular.
The governor's LINE Commission supposedly solicited input from a number of different scientific disciplines. However, members of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Idaho Geological Survey are conspicuous by their absence. Turning Arco into a nuclear repository without credible scientific input is a nonstarter - jobs or no jobs. The geologists were ignored at Teton Dam. Are they even being consulted this time around?
Idaho is one of the most seismically active states in the Lower 48 and the reactor site sits within a few miles of four fault lines associated with the Lost River Range. Also, the site is on top of the Snake River Aquifer. What could possibly go wrong? Remember the Mt. Borah earthquake of 1983? Can you count to magnitude 7.3?
JOHN ULINDER, Boise
Give back extra money to Idaho's taxpayers
Did you know that Idaho has one of the highest levels of state income tax (Ranks 12 out of 50)? Did you know that Idaho is one of the lowest in the nation on a per capita income (ranks 48 out of 50 in per capita income). Both of the Idaho tax pendulums are moving in the opposing direction - high state income tax and low per-capita income. To correct this unbalanced approach, state income tax rates should be lowered and emulate closer to the per-capita income levels. That would be closer to a balanced approach of income levels to the state income tax rate.
Idaho is taking in millions more in taxes and wondering what to do with it. I have an idea. Give it back to the taxpayers that paid the taxes and lower the state income tax rate and related tax tables. Another way is for the state to stop taxing food. In addition, have a flat $25/year car tag renewal regardless of the age of the vehicle.
GALEN KIDD, Boise