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September 25, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Sept. 25, 2012

Guest editorial creates confusion

Having read your editorial of Sept. 21 titled “Bridge needs better solution,” I must admit to being a little confused. You enthusiastically endorsed the efforts of a political candidate to use a political campaign to produce a public policy discussion. You went so far to state that if the candidate “had the presence of mind to raise a legitimate issue that people care about, more power to him.” You even applauded the fact that this issue was relevant and nonpartisan.

So what I don’t understand is your publishing a guest editorial on Sept. 12, which stated “Child abuse too serious to use for political gain.” That editorial states that a “mission to better protect children in Indiana from abuse and neglect is in danger of becoming just another political argument that divides Hoosiers along partisan lines.”  

It went on to identify several issues and failures by the Department of Child Services, including a re-abuse rate of 8 percent, and conceded that we have a long way to go. Having served as a member of the Indiana Child Fatality Review Team from 2004 until last week, I can assure you that there are abundant problems that need to be addressed in this agency, not the least of which is their refusal to accept a standard definition of child abuse such as that put forth by the CDC.

So why is the status of a bridge more important an issue than the safety of Indiana children? If making bridge repairs can be enhanced by politicians speaking out, why not an issue as serious as child abuse? Please enlighten me.

— Roland M. Kohr, M.D.

Vigo County Coroner

Romney should release tax docs

Mitt Romney has been pressured by Republicans as well as Democrats to reveal his tax returns beyond the last two years. At least five years of disclosures would satisfy his critics, or most of them.

Romney’s famous father, George, a greatly esteemed role model for his son, revealed 10 years of his taxes. But his son has adamantly refused to follow his father’s example, or even half as many years as his father.

The former governor of Massachusetts (the most liberal state in the Union where Romney was once a moderate or even liberal Republican) has persistently denied the demands of his critics, especially the president and the majority leader of the Senate, Harry Reid. He countered with the charge that they are only intruding a “distraction” into the campaign to draw attention away from a failing economy. Taxes a distraction? Come on, Mitt, you gotta be kidding.

Here’s the problem with his parry and thrust at his opponents. The three pillars of the conservative philosophy since the 18th century and the birth of our republic have been less taxes, less government, and less regulation. Or, to put a positive spin on it, more freedom for the individual (which in theory sounds great). The mantra of less taxes and less government is especially alive and well during election years.

Who can dispute, therefore, that taxes paid by candidates are germane because, one, Mitt Romney is running for the presidency, and, two, he is under a cloud of suspicion for not paying his fair share of taxes. Moreover, Sen. Reid brazenly passed along what was anonymously revealed to him. Namely, that for some years Romney paid no taxes at all. Romney’s strong protest against this accusation has been met with two words: “Prove it.”

In addition, some critics allege that the candidate availed himself of every possible loophole to avoid paying taxes. Legal, granted, but of questionable morality. Putting much of his capital offshore, ostensibly to avoid U.S. tax rates, does not mesh with his righteous rhetoric.

Could not this issue and the charge of Reid be easily dispelled by a full disclosure over the past five years? This is no less than what Romney’s closest colleagues and supporters have urged, knowing full well that transparency is a far better option than stonewalling the demands. As the country learned after the Watergate/Nixon scandal, a cover-up can be worse than the crime.

I am not insinuating that Romney committed a crime, but I will say that he appears to be caught in a lose/lose predicament. Stonewalling it can only be seen as hiding some bad news. Revealing his returns — judging by his long refusal — might confirm the bad news.

In any case, the brouhaha over his taxes, or the absence of such, is not likely to impress the undecided voters.

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute

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