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New plan is needed to save middle class

The nation is discussing income redistribution to save the middle class. Not discussed is the assault on the middle class in the form of overwhelming debt -- mortgages, student loans, credit cards, vehicle loans and taxes. Some debt has been transferred through higher tax payments. This transfer began with entitlement programs initiated under the Great Society, which are financed by deficit spending.

Economists have lectured for years that there is no free lunch. Entitlements are free lunches based on economic need. Unfortunately, members of the middle class do not qualify for these lunches. The upper class can pay without increasing its debt due to tax loopholes and lower tax rates on capital gains (80 percent of stocks belong to the richest 10 percent), while those in the lower class are amongst the 46 percent who pay no income taxes. The middle class has minimal loopholes and fewer investments. It suffers the most since more of its income is consumed by taxes.

Prior to 2008, household wealth (assets minus debts) for the middle class grew at a rate that outpaced inflation as the stock market averaged double-digit gains and unemployment was low. The "good times" ended when the mortgage crisis depreciated the major asset (home equity) of the middle class. This loss was further exacerbated by the elimination of many middle-class jobs. The crisis exposed the fact that the middle class takes on the greatest percentage of our national debt, and its household wealth continues to decline.

Our president is introducing a new plan to save the middle class. Will his plan be continued deficit spending or a balanced budget?

William Christen

Alden

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Missing a few votes in House is no big deal

Over her impressive 24-year career, Rep. Louise Slaughter made 95 percent of the votes. It takes a lady of her courage to stand up against Wall Street greed, take on a corrupt Supreme Court justice and challenge her fellow members of Congress for the insider trading that seems to be overtaking the Capitol.

If she needs to miss a few days to be home for a family matter, let her. Who among us hasn't done the same? Slaughter is the one I want in my corner.

Ann Riley

Tonawanda

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Bring sailors' remains back home to America

Sen. John McCain's decision on the USS Intrepid has gone too far. The issue shouldn't have had to be forced all the way to Congress; it should have been resolved soon after it began. People in the United States and the descendants of the men wish to bring the remains home one final time.

When soldiers valiantly serve their country and make the ultimate sacrifice, they should be treated with reverence and given the respect they've earned. Unfortunately, the men who perished on the Intrepid now remain in a place that does not offer them the true admiration and appreciation they deserve. Americans have an obligation to give these men a resting place fit to represent the sacrifice they made.

The Navy is the force behind McCain's reluctance to bring the sailors home. The Navy maintains that it is the custom to leave the remains of those lost in a plane or a ship in their resting place. Custom should not be followed here. These men deserve to be brought home one last time and have a resting place respecting all that they sacrificed for us.

Although the previous reason is sufficient, there is an even more compelling argument. Descendants of these fallen men wish to have their ancestors' remains returned from Libya to the United States. The government should not be allowed to deny them. The descendants should decide whether to bring the remains home.

This issue shows the true patriotism that Americans feel and how grateful we truly are for all those who have risked their lives, especially those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. We only wish to show the fallen that what they did for their country is remembered, respected and appreciated.

Daniel Mangino

Eden

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Educating students must be top priority

Knowing the exact wording of the Buffalo Teachers Federation contract might help to shed light on the most recent dispute regarding Buffalo school turnaround plans. If the teachers in those failing schools have requested a transfer and those transfers are a requirement to proceed, then everyone involved must come to consensus for the sake of improvement in those failing schools.

Congratulations to those teachers who vote in favor of students. Working toward the welfare of students, the advancement of education and improvement of instructional opportunities must prevail. Teacher assignments as a result of program changes are usually included in contract language. Favorable interpretation of that language with teachers who are volunteers and students who desperately deserve a chance must trump all other opposition.

Linda Ulrich-Hagner

East Aurora

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Pay Attica guards until proven guilty

Shame on New York State for suspending the Attica guards without pay as they fight these assault charges. This is still America and they are innocent until proven guilty. They should be paid until they are proven guilty. Our incompetent state officials continue to get paid even though they fail to do their jobs.

And shame on the Wyoming County officials for arresting these men and plastering their pictures in the news one week before Christmas. As a taxpayer, I feel this is a waste of valuable tax money prosecuting these ridiculous charges. I'm sure a jury of their peers will see through this nonsense and put them back to work. Hats off to all the cops and prison guards who are left to deal with the killers, rapists, thieves and thugs. Great job, and keep fighting the good fight.

Roger McGill Jr.

Cheektowaga

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Even church is taking Christ out of Christmas

This is in response to the pastor of the church who embraces the new wording that is being used at Catholic Masses. He was so explanatory about why Catholics should accept all the new wording. All would be well and good if he "lived" what he was preaching in that letter. His church, which hundreds of people drive by daily on William Street, has a sign that gives the times for "Xmas" Masses. For one who is so informed about the new changes in the Mass, how can he take "Christ" out of Christmas at his church? Just wondering.

Melissa Peters

West Seneca