Letters To The Editor 11/16/2017

November 16, 2017 GMT

Protect democracy

Editor: Now infamously known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” President Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and caused the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, on Oct. 20, 1973.

Nixon fired Cox to quash his subpoena of tapes of Oval Office conversations about the Watergate break-in. Richardson refused Nixon’s order to do the Cox firing. He resigned in protest, as did Ruckelshaus when he refused Nixon’s same order.

Now, Robert Mueller, special counsel investigating Russian tampering in the 2016 election — a former FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — is in a similar role as Cox. Mueller obtained an indictment against Paul Manafort, formerly Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign chairman, alleging conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and being an unregistered foreign agent. Also indicted was Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates. Trump’s former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulus, pleaded guilty. These are the first indictments in the first case in U.S. history of a foreign power influencing a U.S. presidential election.

To prevent other “Saturday Night Massacres,” it is vital to our national security and the integrity of our electoral system to prosecute Manafort and Gates and without the threat of White House obstruction.

Quick passage of the bipartisan Special Counsel Integrity Act in Congress is needed to protect Mueller and future special counsels from the kind of presidential scorn of due process that resulted in Nixon firing Cox.

Unfortunately, the Trump White House is still invested with the same broad powers of the Nixon White House. Urge your House and Senate representatives to support the legislation and close the Nixon loophole, allowing only the attorney general or his deputy to have oversight of the special counsel. No one else could remove a special counsel, not even the president.




Greatness on hold

Editor: During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a great health care plan that would cover all Americans.

He promised to build a wall on our southern border that Mexico would pay for and he promised that when budget-cutting time came, Social Security and Medicare would not be touched.

We now know these were just some of the many lies that Trump got his foolish supporters to believe. While Trump continues to fool his clueless supporters, polls show that a vast majority of people are not being fooled.

In a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll only 37 percent of Americans approved of the job that Trump is doing and 59 percent disapproved.

On the world stage things are much worse. The Pew Research Center has been tracking world confidence in U.S. presidents since 2002. In June, Pew Research released the results of its survey on world confidence in Trump. The survey of 37 countries found that a median of just 22 percent of respondents had confidence that Trump would do the right thing when it came to international affairs. By contrast, 64 percent expressed confidence in former President Barack Obama.

The Pew survey found that citizens in 35 out of the 37 countries had less confidence in Trump than they did in Obama, in some cases far less. The only two countries whose citizens expressed more confidence in Trump were from Russia and Israel.

So much for making America great again.



Improve tax policy

Editor: The time for tax reform is now and members of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants encourage Congress to address the core issues of good tax policy. Compliance hurdles for taxpayers, administrative complexity and enforcement challenges for the IRS are primary obstacles in need of change.

Making the business case for the need for change, CPAs note that the last tax reform package was passed more than 30 years ago and the year-by-year fixes over that time have made it challenging for business owners and entrepreneurs to grow their business strategically. New regulations and extender bills passed annually make it difficult for taxpayers to manage their tax obligations. When cash flow is uncertain, it affects a business owner’s ability to hire and expand. America’s entrepreneurs need a tax code that is simple, transparent and certain.

CPAs long have advocated a tax system that uses a consistent definition of taxable income without any phaseouts. New tax legislation should provide a clear definition of taxable income, simple and transparent tax rate schedules that are applied consistently across all rate brackets and elimination of additional surtaxes. Taxpayers should understand their tax obligation and be able to plan accordingly.

Pennsylvania CPAs believe in good tax policy and use 10 guiding principles when analyzing a tax law or tax changes. Some of these principles include equity and fairness, effective tax administration, simplicity and economic growth and efficiency.

This framework can help policymakers build an effective roadmap to analyze proposals addressing changes to existing tax laws and has been shared with all members of the Pennsylvania delegation to Congress.





Class action foe

Editor: Class action lawsuits are the greatest source of attorneys becoming millionaires while their clients become paupers.

While the latter is an exaggeration, the former is not. What is a fair depiction of these suits is that the aggrieved parties sometimes receive payments in hundreds, or even low thousands while their attorneys receive payouts in the hundreds of thousands or millions.

Never should legal representatives receive more than the injured parties. Every legal and moral ethic dictates this. Unfortunately, those two aspects of lady justice are invisible when it comes to class action suits.

The judges who approve these suits are often blinded by their close association to the legal community. As a result these golden apples of the bar live on endlessly.