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Candidates' Spending Plans

September 10, 2000

* Re "Candidates, Do the Math," editorial, Sept. 3: Your balanced analysis of the two major candidates' spending plans was very much appreciated. The complaint that little is left for debt reduction may be somewhat harsh; as both candidates propose to leave Social Security and Medicare tax revenues in a "lockbox," those accounts would accumulate further surpluses and constitute, in fact, substantial debt reductions for the next 10 years. Perhaps another decade later this source would dry up as ever more recipients collect their entitlements. To be fair, both candidates have offered ideas about the long run.

One thing needs to be explained. How can tax cuts, especially when they benefit few (meaning the rich), undermine economic growth? Where does The Times think economic growth comes from?

H.R. RICHNER

Costa Mesa

*

The Times' editorial on tax and spending priorities seems to accept the premise that the current baseline of a $1.8-trillion federal budget is sacred and that there are no opportunities for significant spending cuts. In fact, there are many items in the federal budget that can and should be cut--and do not require abandonment of the poor, sick or elderly.

Corporate welfare--public subsidies to politically influential private businesses--has been estimated by both liberal and conservative groups at about $100 billion per year. We also spend at least $100 billion per year on free military protection for our wealthy, industrialized and often ungrateful allies in Europe and Asia. These two items alone could pay for George Bush's tax cut and Al Gore's tax cut and a senior prescription drug plan.

The downside to the budget surplus is that it gives big-spending politicians an excuse to continue with business as usual.

FREDERICK SINGER

Huntington Beach

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