News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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October 13, 2013

Readers’ Forum: Oct. 13, 2013

Side effects of health care law

The Affordable Care Act has now gone into effect: We are finally able to see what it is going to do for health insurance.

The cost of my insurance between 2012 and 2014 went from $800 to $3,800, while the coverage remains the same. Does that sound like it is an improvement?

For those people who support the Affordable Care Act, would you support the idea of taxing people differently based on the type of car that you drive? The Affordable Care Act discriminates against those that have employer-provided health insurance and those that do not.

Due to the interaction between income and health insurance assistance, the premium tax assistance credit is phased out as income rises. A married couple with two children and a combined income of $50,000 would have their insurance premiums capped at 6.72 percent of income or $3,360; their premium tax assistance credit would be $8,640.

Now let’s assume that you pay for your health insurance, while your brother or sister has company-paid health insurance. If both of you earned another $10,000 taking your income up to $60,000, your brother or sister would pay an additional $1,500 in taxes, while the maximum premium threshold would increase to $4,913, so you would be required to pay an additional $1,553 in health insurance premiums plus $1,500 in tax. Is it fair that on $10,000 one person is paying 15 percent, while the other is paying and additional 30.53 percent? If you honestly believe that, what other factors would you allow to determine who to discriminate against?

With a slight change in the law, our local union workers, police officers, firefighters and school teachers could all be discriminated against and forced to pay more in taxes under the Affordable Care Act, as could any other group.

The Affordable Care Act requires larger employers to report the value of employer-provided health insurance. Do you know what that information provides to the government? The amount of additional revenue it can raise by eliminating the tax-free fringe benefit that most of you enjoy now. In the end, the tax-free health care benefit that currently exists will be eliminated.  

If this law is going to work as it has been presented, why not remove all exemptions and waivers that have been granted and implement the entire bill today? Both the president and Congress are ignoring a portion of the law that said that they had to purchase their insurance through an exchange.

Why should you care? Every person that chooses not to purchase insurance, refuses to pay the penalty that is actually a tax, and is smart enough to adjust their withholdings to have no federal refund will end up moving the date that you lose your tax-free health insurance a little bit earlier.

— Joe Coonce


Stop playing with federal services

The inability of our elected leaders in Washington to keep the federal government open is appalling. As a federal employee in Sullivan, I am proud to go to work each day to do my part for the country I love. I facilitate real estate transactions involving a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Since I am not allowed to work, these transactions cannot take place. This means real estate sales and mortgage refinance transactions are being lost. This has a tangible impact upon those trying to sell homes or refinance to secure a lower interest rate.

Because of the shutdown, families will cancel trips to national parks, first-time homebuyers may see delays in the processing of federally backed loans, and we will question the safety of the food we eat. None of this is necessary. Congress can and should pass a clean continuing resolution (CR) today.

Federal workers are also being penalized in the pocketbook. Even employees who aren’t furloughed will not be paid as long as the government is shut down.

Our representatives in Congress need to stop playing games with our nation’s services and those who provide them. They must immediately resolve the budget crisis so federal employees across the nation and right here at home can get back to work for our country.

— Shawn Kennedy


Parents should just feed the kids

News 10 reported on Saturday, Oct. 5, that nearly one half of school children in Indiana receive free or reduced lunches, and in Vigo County that number is 53 percent. They also report that this is up 27 percent since 2004.

I do understand that we need to ensure that kids are nourished, I get that. Why, though, aren’t we ensuring that parents and caregivers just feed their kids? I find it hard to believe that more than half the kids in Vigo County aren’t getting enough to eat at home. What do the parents of these children do with their money?

Don’t we already provide extra money to parents to take care of their children’s necessities in the form of tax credits, tax deductions, WIC and welfare (to name a few)? What’s the purpose of the Earned Income Credit and Head of Household Credit? It certainly can’t be intended for a vacation or to buy a laptop or 4-wheeler. People get these benefits because they have kids, and it’s intended to help them care for them properly, and this includes lunch.    

If this “money” isn’t intended for parents to take care of their offspring, then why aren’t the rest of us receiving this extravagant form of income for our next frivolous purchase? What’s next, are the schools going to purchase clothing for kids because some parents opt for smoking and drinking instead of purchasing new children’s clothing?

I hear a lot of people excited by the arrival of February each year, eager to head to local tax preparers to have their taxes calculated because they know that their tax returns will far exceed their meager tax withholdings. These people also seem to boast about their plans for a vacation, or a new quad or other inane wasteful purchases because they get so much money “back” from their taxes, they’re anxious and impatient to get at that handout. These are many of the same people whose offspring are receiving free or reduced lunches provided by taxpayers because many of them are giddily squandering this free money on things other than the basics for their children.

Not all parents so flippantly waste money intended for their children, but it appears that more than half the parents in Vigo County willingly permit others to pay to feed their kids, and that’s just wrong.  

I suggest that for those receiving free or reduced-price lunches that the government treat the cost of food and providing food as income for the parents; after all, they’re apparently not using their own income to feed their kids. Send them a tax statement at the end of the year detailing what it costs to feed their kids, and reduce that overgenerous tax return or welfare payment they receive because others must pay twice for food for their kids. I feel certain that this would reduce the number of people signing up for “free” or “reduced” lunches in the state and maybe cause those parents who are joining in simply because they are permitted to join in to think twice and to provide their children with lunches.

If we can reduce the money that schools have to pay to feed children, we can use this money to educate these youngsters so that maybe in the future these kids will have good careers and won’t have to depend on the others to feed their kids, twice. The only losers might be the cigarette companies, alcohol venders, sport equipment dealers, travel agents, airlines and others who won’t get the money the parents should have been spending on their children’s food in the first place.

— James C. Kmetz

Terre Haute

Has the tea party reached its goal?

What if the tea party shutdown is not about the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) at all?

You see, for years and years, ever since Gov. George C. Wallace ran for president, a certain faction has called employees of the government “pointy-headed bureaucrats” and has lamented that socialism is taking over America because there are too many government agencies. More recently, they have been using the term “nanny state” to refer to American government. Rich crooks just can’t seem to get away with enough these days.

The tea party has called repeatedly for the abolishment of government agencies such as the Department of Education, the Environmental Protection Agency and the IRS, not to mention abolishing Social Security.

The tea party legislature-sponsored government shutdown has either completely closed or severely curtailed the operation of the EPA, National Institute of Health, HUD, Department of Immigration, Department of the Interior (National Park Service), Department of Labor (including Wage and Hour), U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, all Social Security Disability Hearings, U.S. State Department, Department of Agriculture (including Woman, Infants and Children, farm supports and USDA food inspections), IRS tax refunds, U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Transportation, much of the city government of Washington D.C., Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Centers for Disease Control, NASA, Department of the Treasury and employees of the Supreme Court.  

Since Obamacare is not defunded by this nonsense, then why do it? Unless … Congratulations to the tea pParty. Mission accomplished.

That is, except for our own congressman, Dr. Larry Bucshon. He has fallen so far and his is such a tragic story. You see, Dr. Bucshon wanted to defund Obamacare. That is why he ran for office and how he campaigned. He has failed in his mission. Now, he no longer represents those who elected him, and he is but a mere puppet in the larger tea party purpose of abolishing much of the federal government. He couldn’t care less if he ruins the whole Republican Party in the process.

— John Garner

Terre Haute

Elected officials disappointing

My husband has written a few letters to the editor. Recent events have reached a point it was time for me to try one.

Why do we continue to pay our representatives and the president in Washington? They are wasting our time and theirs with this budget situation. They were elected to make things better, not worse.  

Now, news is coming out that we will not support the families of those members of the Armed Forces who have died in service to this country. My father was a member of “The Greatest Generation.” He served in the Battle of the Bulge and through VE day. He is probably turning over in his grave. Today, we cannot even afford to let a family see their honored loved ones come home and provide the financial support to bury them because of the budget.

Do these people in Washington work for us or not? As a community, we would help a friend or neighbor if money was lacking. Why, as a community, can’t the United States of America afford to respect the ultimate sacrifice of these people?

Pay for Congress and the president should be stopped until they get their act together. Let them try to make some kind of a monetary sacrifice. It is a small thing compared to people we will never see again. If Congress and the president resolve things soon, I hope we see them even less, and no incumbent will deserve re-election.

— Nancy Owens

Terre Haute

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