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Readers React: It is obscene for the U.S. to spend more on defense than the next several nations combined

The Pentagon in Arlington, Va., home of the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Pentagon in Arlington, Va., home of the U.S. Department of Defense.
(Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: I very much appreciate law professor Edward Kleinbard’s commentary on our tax system and the social safety net. What he misses, however, is defense spending. (“Tax policy is a bore, until they take your Social Security and Medicare away,” Opinion, April 15)

In 2016, the U.S. spent more on its military than the next eight countries combined. It is almost impossible to kill a weapons project, even those that fail to meet their objectives, have excessive cost overruns and are years behind schedule. This is because of the way weapons projects are divided up among many states and congressional districts.

I do not oppose spending on national defense or to protect our interests overseas. But when one goes looking for waste, fraud and abuse in the federal budget, we tend to forget that huge building across the Potomac River called the Pentagon.

Of course, not starting unnecessary wars would save trillions of dollars over the long term too.

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Mark Rice, Palm Springs

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To the editor: Kleinbard’s plea for higher taxes ignores the fact that politicians will spend whatever dollars are available and then some.

As a society, we must prioritize the services we want our government to provide and hold our elected representatives to the standards we establish. Should we decide that Social Security and Medicare are of the highest priority, that’s fine, but we obviously need to economize elsewhere in order to provide those services.

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American taxpayers are not golden geese.

Louis H. Nevell, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The conversation I have every tax season with my accountant goes something like this: How can I pay less in taxes, and how am I going to pay for college? I’m not alone, and if I had any lobbying power, everyone’s taxes would pay for college tuition.

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Tax policy is the primary driver of a nation’s priorities. We need a balanced system that bolsters the shared experience of most people, specifically with respect to fossil fuels. With a carbon tax, I might be able to afford solar panels, a large battery pack for my home and a long-range plug-in car before both my kids are out of college.

I shouldn’t have to choose between their education and a healthy planet — they will need both.

Pam Brennan, Newport Beach

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