Congress will waste a chance to change code


Don't you just wish that Congress had the guts to actually do something about tax policy? With all the talk about the "fiscal cliff," many articles have suggested that this would be a great time to really do something about our complicated tax system.

Unfortunately, you and I know it'll never happen. Not only is there no backbone in Congress, but there are a million different constituencies arguing to keep their particular "deduction" from being eliminated. And you can bet that there will be just as many members of Congress wanting to keep that one thing that benefits them at tax time.

Too bad, isn't it? We're doomed to continue to slog through another tax season, keeping this and that slip of paper so some consultant can tell us we've saved $15 on this and $22 on that -- and now we only owe the IRS another $2,000 to settle the bill. Meanwhile, Congress will examine some new ideas for deductions for next year, the debt will increase, we'll argue about who is or isn't paying their "fair share," and we're all headed for the cliff.


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I am baffled as to why only the Republicans are called to compromise when discussing the "fiscal cliff." Without spending cuts, we will continue to approach the fiscal cliff on a yearly basis.


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Government can trim, but what about us?


I found it interesting how local governments have learned to adjust to reduced state revenues ("Cities wean themselves from state aid," Dec. 3). I'm sure it's a quite difficult process, but nonetheless, it is a process that will become increasingly important and commonplace, at many levels, as we move forward.

Local governments do have options to replace reduced or lost revenues that may not be available for individual benefit recipients. There is no question that at some point soon significant cuts must be made to individual entitlement and benefit programs. I fear that individual recipients of federal and state benefit programs will find it much more difficult to adjust. In light of what is happening in other parts of the world, I hope we can avoid extensive pain and civil unrest.


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Despite his pleas, GOP kills disabilities treaty


Thirty-eight Republican senators decided to stab former Sen. Bob Dole in the back over a U.N. treaty to ban discrimination against people with disabilities. If I were Dole, I would consider changing my party affiliation.


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To the U.S. senators who voted against the treaty:

My religion calls me to defend and uphold the worth and dignity of every person and to work for justice with compassion. So I have to express my extreme dismay in your vote. I have read the treaty. It is clearly written to uphold the civil rights of a group of people who often have many barriers in their way -- barriers of mobility, barriers to employment, barriers to simply being treated as whole human beings.

Your vote against this treaty shows an arrogance and meanness that is not what the United States was built upon. Consider, for a moment, how you would feel if you had a child battling every day just to get to a second-floor classroom, to find an appropriate book in Braille, to find a team she can join. Honestly, your defeat of this treaty has taken America to a new low. Religious humanists will not stand for your unjust action.


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Child care, early ed can pay major dividends


The newly established Baby Steps Program in Brooklyn Center highlights the importance of child care to anyone looking to further their education or career. According to a report by Child Care of America, the average cost of infant care in Minnesota is $13,579 a year -- a major barrier for anyone looking to return to school or enter the workforce. It's simply not possible to hold a job or attend school when you don't have anyone to look after your kids during the day.

Not only is limited access to child care a roadblock to employment, but it is also a frequent cause of poverty. If we expect financially disadvantaged parents to get their lives back in order we need to provide some form of assistance, whether it be in the form of child care subsidies or programs with integrated child care such as Baby Steps. Parents shouldn't have to choose between working and caring for their children.

We need to start looking at child care assistance as a social investment. Once people are able to find adequate care for their children, it becomes easier to find employment or return to school, which means they will be less likely to rely on social programs later in life. Providing assistance will create a brighter future not only for the parents, but for their children as well.


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Lucky is the little girl in the pink winter snowsuit who is pulling on her mother's leg to help her parents cut down a Christmas tree ("Drought hurt Christmas trees yet to come," Dec. 3). Experiences such as this are an important part of the parents' responsibility to their growing child.

Young minds are eager to learn, and yet sometimes the worthwhile stimulation provided is not enough to adequately prepare them for what is ahead. Early childhood education is important for each child, but also for our larger community so that all members get the best start in life possible.