Tax hikes on high earners affect everybody

Re: "Stop feeling sorry for the six-figure earners," From Readers, Jan. 9 & " 'Hidden' tax to hit Md., Va. businesses extra hard," Local Editorial, Jan. 6

How Betty Perry frames her argument about the impact of a tax hike on the $250,000-plus earner reveals a dearth of understanding the impact of taxes.

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Last month, a small-business owner told me that should the Bush tax rates survive in 2013, his business would benefit from hiring several new employees. However, the tax increases now prevent him from doing so.

S-corporations often file as individuals, and higher taxes strain their ability to invest, grow and hire. Other individuals who draw $250,000 salaries do so because of highly specialized skills, and with higher tax rates they will seek higher future pay raises to compensate.

The simple reality, when we consider a comprehensive web of cause and affect, is that a tax on one is a tax on all.

-- Brian Wrenn


Humane Society stands by claims of elephant abuse

Re: "When animal rights groups attack," Jan. 6

While the Humane Society of the United States was not a party in the case against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, we agree that its treatment of elephants is deplorable and unacceptable.

Kenneth Feld, CEO of Ringling's parent company, admitted under oath that his employees strike elephants with bullhooks -- pointed spikes with hooks at the end used to poke, prod, strike and hit animals.

Momentum against abusive methods to train elephants is growing. Another court recently prohibited the use of bullhooks on elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo, and the city of Los Angeles is looking to follow suit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture fined Ringling $270,000 -- the largest Animal Welfare Act penalty ever leveled.

Silencing critics with hefty legal bills is hardly a surprising tactic. The HSUS will continue to speak up for elephants, even as Ringling diverts and distracts from its treatment of them.

-- Wayne Pacelle

President & CEO, The Humane Society of the United States

To keep Social Security solvent, tap the rich

Republicans want to use a smaller cost-of-living formula for Social Security recipients because, they say, there is a money problem. Yet they hold out for tax reductions for people who make millions or even billions.

If we have to cut Grandma's Social Security payment, which averages about $1,200 a month, why not go where the real money is? The top 400 families in the U.S. have as much wealth as the bottom 150 million Americans. The rich have done very well over the past 12 years, and it is not their kids who are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq defending their right to make even more. Can't they at least help fund these made-up wars?

Corporate welfare and perks are included in the new tax bill that Obama signed. If he lowers Social Security, too, the Democratic Party loses me forever.

-- Jack Donner