Who would have thought that our first black president could be brought down by Democrats? Unless there is a real attitude adjustment in the Democratic Party before 2012—a greater respect for the president’s ability to reach compromises with very hostile adversaries—Obama’s own party will probably prevent him from getting a second term. If President Obama wanted to accomplish anything, he had to compromise. It seems that many Democrats would rather have a political civil war that paralyzes the nation than compromise with [Rep. John] Boehner and [Sen. Mitch] McConnell. Obama is right to say no to those rigid ideologues [who refuse to] compromise and achieve some small success. Maybe the difference between victory and survival should be explained to the purists.
MICHAEL GORMAN Whitestone, N.Y.
Republican legislators say they want to cut deficits, but insist on extending all tax cuts. Democratic legislators want to help the unemployed, but refuse to extend current tax rates for the more wealthy citizens. The political solution? A $900 billion payout to multiple constituencies—but in opposition to the deficit-cutting favored by a majority of Americans and claimed by many of those same legislators. Such compromises are exactly the path that has put the U.S. budget in the hole that it’s in. The old wisdom: When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.
GLEN CURTIS Tremonton, Utah
People making over $106,800 a year do not pay Social Security tax on their earnings above $106,800. Which means the wealthy, however you define them, get a 12.4 percent tax break, with or without the Bush tax cuts. This is a dirty little secret that neither the wealthy nor the politicians want you to know about. Consider that the median income in America as of 2009 was $49,777. There are a lot more workers under that $106,800 FICA tax threshold than above it. And there are people above that threshold that make a lot more than the median. So why do they deserve a greater tax break than those struggling to get by on $49,700 or less? Those who have done well in our economy have done so because the rest of us buy what they produce, and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they give a little back. So on this, I’m with the president. The tax cuts appear to be on the verge of being renewed for everyone, which is necessary in our slow economy. But when the economy picks up enough, they should be eliminated for the wealthy.
WILLIAM DAVID Provo, Utah
I was shocked to learn of the proposed tax agreement to spend an additional $1 trillion. The latest election clearly demonstrated that a lot of Americans are angry about the huge government spending spree, with some polls showing that federal debt is more of a concern to Americans than the war. But as Ronald Reagan would say, “There they go again” spending like drunken sailors. Strange that one week a few billion dollars is saved by freezing federal employee raises, then another week there is agreement to additional spending of over $1 trillion; clearly something is unhinged in Washington, D.C.
ROGET HEUSSER Salem, Ore.