Payroll tax negotiations in Congress; two-tiered pay at a GM factory; Kim Jong Un’s task in North Korea

Payroll tax blowup

Re “Congress shuts door on tax cut and jobless aid,” Dec. 21

So here we are again. The GOP leadership crafts a deal with Democrats to avert a payroll tax hike only to have the negotiations gleefully blown up at the last minute by the “tea party” caucus.

This scenario is reminiscent of the debt-ceiling debacle, where experienced congressional leaders negotiated what would have been a historic compromise solution, only to have the tea party anarchists derail the negotiations and push the country to the brink of financial disaster.


These episodes are getting extremely tiresome to the majority of Americans. When will Republicans realize that the tea party not only represents only a small minority of the country but is also the GOP’s own biggest threat?

Matthew Singerman

Newbury Park

For those of us who remember the great House speakers of the past — such as Sam Rayburn and Tip O’Neill, who managed to get their fractious party caucuses in line — Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) inability to get his Republicans to accept the compromise worked out by Republicans in the Senate is evidence of a speaker totally ineffective at developing viable solutions.


For him to call on President Obama to exercise more leadership is supremely ironic.

Gordon J. Louttit

Manhattan Beach

Obama effectively wants a 2% reduction in revenue to our retirement fund, better known as Social Security. So he’s not losing anything, we the people are.


Why doesn’t he give us a real break from the federal income tax we pay? Make it a 10% break and create income for Americans now.

Tom Kondziella

Diamond Bar

Republicans have spent more than 10 years ensuring that the wealthiest people get tax cuts. Yet they won’t spend a week trying to help the vast majority of Americans get a payroll tax break. They’ve lost all sense of perspective and fairness.


I guess they didn’t realize that a payroll tax break gives more money to millionaires as well as non-millionaires.

Susan Jacobs

Studio City

According to the Social Security website, earners only pay the tax on income up to $106,800. Above that amount, no additional tax is paid.


Why is there no discussion of raising this cap? Surely that could be used to help secure Social Security’s future.

Tom Ostwald

Santa Barbara

Heroic trees


Re “Lessons of ‘Arborgeddon,’ ” Dec. 15

Cities can no longer simply slap trees in the ground and get all the essential infrastructure and life-support services we need from them. As we experience increasing damage from severe weather, we need trees more than ever as our most valuable providers of nature’s bounty and — when planted and cared for correctly — our mightiest protectors against many natural disasters.

It’s time to move beyond treating trees as decorations and afterthoughts and time to invest in retrofitting and replanting. Doing this right will help rebuild the economy as well as make cities more resilient.

Trees lower urban temperatures, reducing energy costs. They capture and store rainfall for local water supply, reducing the need for costly imported water. They prevent and clean up air and water pollution, saving millions of dollars and lives.


The savings can pay for thousands of green jobs in properly caring for these superheroes of our cities.

Andy Lipkis

Los Angeles

The writer is the founder and president of TreePeople.


Same work for less pay

Re “Dual pay scale puts more to work, for less,” Dec. 18

How sad it is that for people to work in a two-tier pay system at a reopened General Motors Co. plant, new hires will have to do the same job for about half the pay. At $15.78 per hour, how does one own a house and a car and save for retirement?

Meanwhile, we can’t raise taxes on job creators, and it somehow defies reason to limit executive compensation. Where is the outrage?


Mitt Romney tries to bet Texas Gov. Rick Perry what would amount to almost a third of that second-tier employee’s pay. Newt Gingrich states that he charges $60,000 a speech.

The wealth disparity continues to grow, and people are glad to take a huge pay cut to have any income at all. We are witnessing the annihilation of the middle class.

Kimberlyn Hearns

San Bernardino


Interesting article about what happens when workers’ choices are narrowed to unemployment or lower wages. However, one key fact was missing from your analysis.

This time, the United Auto Workers is sitting on both sides of the negotiating table, as owner of 17.5% of GM common stock and $6.5 billion of preferred shares. Has this influenced its wage concessions?

Heather Peters

Los Angeles


Transition in Korea

Re “Son inherits troubled nation,” Dec. 20

Few individuals in history have had the opportunity to save an entire nation. Kim Jong Un does.

With the same thoroughness that his father used to starve North Koreans, Kim could rescue them by simply opening up his country to western capitalists. They will be eager to put to work the starving millions who would be equally eager to have jobs. To save South Korea from a crushing financial burden, the borders should remain closed until the north is stable.


Kim will need incredible courage to break with the cruel choices of his father.

Colin Dangaard


The mass grief in Pyongyang pictured in The Times and elsewhere is the most obvious, phoniest act, typifying the propaganda machine that ran this dictatorship.


I sincerely doubt that there was a single genuine tear shed for Kim Jong Il. The real tears shed in North Korea are those of the general populace when they bury their young who have starved to death.

We can only hope that the foul stench of the “Dear Leader” and his family will fade away from that miserable land and from our memory.

Ed Coonce



Iraq war costs

Re “An elusive victory in Iraq,” Opinion, Dec. 18

That the U.S. in the 21st century, even arbitrarily and on false pretense, may invade a foreign country, hang the country’s head of state, change the country’s government and make that country an ally forever — these are the principled gains of the war with Iraq.

It is against this accomplishment that the cost — nearly 4,500 U.S. servicemen killed, about 32,000 injured, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed and about $800 billion spent — must be weighed.


P.D. Sharma

Lake View Terrace

Waste of energy

Re “House beats back light-bulb regulations,” Dec. 17


This attempt to “restore the freedom to choose” inefficient incandescent light bulbs is the latest example of congressional Republican extremists confusing liberty with stupidity.

The government mandate requiring more efficient light bulbs, signed by President Bush in 2007, is a great example of government and industry working together to bring about better products. This is a win-win policy, as efficient light bulbs will cost consumers less in the long run while improving the environment.

Let’s elect lawmakers who understand that public-private cooperation to increase energy efficiency is good for America.

John D. Kelley


Santa Barbara