Here’s a digest of opinion content published Saturday, Dec. 18, Sunday, Dec. 19 and today, Monday, Dec. 20:
Saturday, Dec. 18
Tax Cuts: Commentary
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-Bronx, who holds the 17th Congressional District seat, writes about the compromise to extend Bush-era tax cuts and unemployment benefits. Engel did not support the extension. He writes:
… I regret that because of these truly disagreeable parts of the deal, I was unable to vote for some of the things I truly believe in. I think our nation’s unemployed need security knowing that their benefits won’t be yanked away by a Republican majority in 2011. Republicans have fought against unemployment insurance for the past year. I think some of the tax cuts included are vital for the middle and lower income people — the Child Tax Credit, a two-year extension of relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax and the Earned Income Tax Credit are great ideas — and I did vote for them earlier this month when the House passed the lower- and middle-income tax cut. And I would vote for them again when they are not held hostage by tax breaks for the ultra-wealthy.
However, I cannot support something that threatens the very fiber of Social Security. Americans have been paying into Social Security for decades, and seniors rely upon it for their retirement years. It is the ultimate safety net in our society. By reducing the payroll tax, we are slicing into the revenue stream that funds Social Security. Even if we do it temporarily, it becomes very difficult to move back to where it is today. And if we make one concession in the funding of Social Security, it kicks open the door to more. That is unacceptable. …
Adam Bradley: Commentary
James W. Glatthaar, a White Plains Democrat who served on Mayor Adam Bradley’s transition team, defends the White Plains mayor in a Community View. Bradley, convicted earlier this month on five charges related to a domestic abuse case involving his wife, Fumiko, should stay in office, Glatthaar says.
Sunday, Dec. 19
Tax cuts: Editorial
We comment on the benefits of last week’s bipartisan compromise to extend Bush-era tax cuts and unemployment benefits. We believe the deal was a good one. We write:
… The new stimulus package — an amalgamation of tax credits and Social Security, income, estate and business tax cuts — will put money back into the pockets of New Yorkers who will spend it — and right away, creating more distance between the Great Recession and recovery. At some point, of course, business hiring and spending will need to account for more of the momentum. The over-reliance on productivity gains, stagnant wages and unsustainable taxing and spending policies is no recipe for broad and sustained recovery.
Maybe Americans know this. Or maybe they don’t care: Polls showed that big majorities of Americans backed the tax compromise — because there was something in it for them — notwithstanding so much stated concern about budget deficits. The evidence suggests that people are more concerned about the deficits in their own pockets. Nonetheless, it should be understood by now that there is a limit on just how much the nation can spend without raising the revenues to match.
That reckoning will come, even if we are inclined now to put it off for another tomorrow.
Double dippers: Editorial
We comment on recent news that Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, R-Blooming Grove, is one of 11 Albany lawmakers who’ve signed up to start receiving a pension in 2011. We write:
… Calhoun is among the 11 state legislators to recently sign up for a pension, even though she won her last election and will be on the job at least another two years. In January, Calhoun starts her 11th term in the Assembly representing parts of Orange County and Stony Point in the 96th District. She will take home nearly $100,000 in salary and a hefty pension.
It’s perfectly legal, in that dysfunctional Albany sort of way. A legislative loophole lets elected officials who were in office before 1995 begin collecting a pension at age 65, even if they stay in the same job. Calhoun turned 66 in July. …
Richard Holbrooke: Commentary
Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times recalls the life and impact of Richard C. Holbrooke, a Scarsdale native and veteran diplomat who served as the Obama administration’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Holbrooke died Monday, Dec. 13 at 69.
Municipal budgets: Reisman
Phil Reisman examines the challenges faced by Westchester’s municipal governments as they prepare budgets for 2011. At the center of those preparations, he writes, is a debate about whether to raise property taxes or to cut services seen by many as essential.
Westchester’s budget: Commentary
Ken Jenkins, D-Yonkers, chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, responds to the flurry of vetoes issued by County Executive Rob Astorino on the board’s budget for 2011. The $1.79 billion spending plan, approved with bipartisan support on Friday, Dec. 10, preserved essential services and cut costs, Jenkins argues.
Doctors and drug companies: Commentary
Dr. Madeleine B. Kitaj responds to a Dec. 12 article on Lower Hudson Valley doctors’ relationships with pharmaceutical companies.
Monday, Dec. 20
Death Penalty: Commentary
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Dick Polman writes about the case of Steven Hayes, sentenced to death earlier this month for the 2007 murders of Jennifer Hawke-Pettit and her daughters, Michaela and Hayley, in Cheshire, Conn. Polman explores the ongoing national debate about whether or not the Death Penalty is warranted or even legal. New York’s death-penalty statute was ruled unconstitutional in 2004.
Thomas DePrisco of Pearl River, a member of the Pearl River and Rockland Board of Cooperative Educational Services school boards, advocates for the restoration of a 3-percent pension contribution for New York’s public workers.