BUSH TAX CUTS

Local debate reflects congressional split

The Sept. 14 headline "GOP vows to keep Bush-era tax cuts" was inaccurate.

It should have read: "GOP vows to block tax cut extension for the middle class; says we don't care about the deficit as long as our rich friends get theirs."

BOB LYSAK, MINNEAPOLIS

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Am I missing something that only Republican economists, representatives and senators know regarding the Bush tax cuts?

The cuts were enacted nine years ago during a very robust economic time. We were promised that the cuts would spur continued economic growth and create more jobs. Seems like just the opposite has happened. Since the cuts were enacted, our country has suffered through one of the most difficult economic downturns in our history, with millions of jobs lost and trillions of dollars lost by the middle class. And yet this is the kind of "success" we want to continue by extending the Bush tax cuts?

When will we learn?

JAY BENANAV, St. Paul

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I consider myself an independent, and I voted for President Obama. I would like to correct a common misconception of those who fall under the category of "wealthy," according to the tax code (couples earning over $250,000 in annual income).

This tax bracket carries with it a perception of the ultrawealthy. I do not consider myself wealthy. I am a small-business owner. As a result, all profit from my company funnels directly into personal income on my annual tax filings, pushing me into the top tax bracket when my business is successful and growing. However, there is a big difference between company profit and the actual income that I bring home.

When my business is growing, my profits have to be reinvested in the company. We carry more inventory and invest in more machinery. Our accounts receivable also grow, which means that more customers owe us money. None of these business "assets" are in the form of actual cash that I could say, bring home to buy groceries, yet they still count as income as far as my taxes are concerned. When my business is growing, my tax burden grows, while my actual take-home salary remains stable.

When my business is not growing, this tends to not be a problem. So in essence there is an incentive for small-business owners like me not to grow, which results in less job creation. I have heard a proposal out of Washington that will attempt to offset the impact of increased taxes on the top bracket by giving tax breaks to companies that invest heavily in research and development. But that's geared more toward helping larger companies in the technology sector. What about the rest of small-business owners who don't have an extensive R&D function?

We need a way for small-business owners to only be taxed on the money they take home, thus giving more incentive to reinvest in their businesses which, in turn, adds more jobs to a fragile economy. But for now, small-business owners and those who work for them are the real losers if Congress decides to allow only the Bush tax cuts for top wage earners to expire.

WARD JOHNSON, Minneapolis

CARLSON ENDORSES HORNER

Former governor can't claim to speak for GOP

In response to former Gov. Arne Carlson's endorsement of Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner: This endorsement puts Carlson in the same category as a closet Democrat or an independent. By voting to raise taxes, which would lead to bigger government, he shows he is definitely not a conservative Republican.

MARY ADRIAN, Eagan

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I have a suggestion for all traditional Democrats who have serious misgivings about voting for DFLer Mark Dayton for governor. Find a Republican with similar misgivings about voting for GOP candidate Tom Emmer, and both decide to vote for Tom Horner. And vice versa.

And for all independents, this should be one of the easiest election choices in decades. Minnesotans have an opportunity this year to move past the political paralysis of "no new taxes" and "tax the rich." But only if the voters decide to honor their responsibility to elect the best governor possible.

I ask all Minnesotans to listen to the debates and vote for who you feel can best address the considerable challenges facing Minnesota. This is not the year to follow the traditional political logic of "us'' or "them.'' It's our choice.

MICHAEL NORD, MINNEAPOLIS

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Whoever wins the governor's race will not win a majority of voters' support. The result of not having a majority-backed governor will be continued governmental rancor and disarray.

The best solution is ranked-choice voting. With ranked-choice, elected officials would have majority support and be in a strong position to get things done. Two candidates support this reform: Mark Dayton and Tom Horner. Let's elect one of them and pass ranked-choice voting.

PAUL ROZYCKI, Minneapolis

METRO GANG STRIKE FORCE

Uncooperative cops cloud future cases

Of course Marshall Tanick's Sept. 14 letter defending the Metro Gang Strike Force members for refusing to testify is correct.

What Tanick doesn't say, but as a defense attorney knows well, is that the uncooperative officers have put their future credibility on the line.

If I'm an aggressive defense attorney and one of these uncooperative officers is going to testify against my client, you can be sure the jury is going to hear how this officer refused to cooperate in an earlier criminal investigation. Nothing could be more damaging to a policeman testifying than to say, "I refuse to answer on the grounds it may incriminate me."

Sadly, the many clean members of the Strike Force are being tarred by those who, without doubt, were breaking laws. Most of us believe that police officers should be held to a higher standard.

BOB BRERETON, St. Paul