Dumping payroll cap would fix problem

As a retiree, about half of my income comes from Social Security, a program that even Republicans value. But I am concerned that the government is looking for ways to reduce benefits, and I just don't think this is necessary.

Why is there a cap on the amount of income subject to the 6.2 percent payroll tax that funds Social Security benefits? About 5 percent of working Americans make more than $113,700 a year but pay no tax on this additional income.

Simply by eliminating the payroll tax earnings cap -- and thus ending this regressive exemption for the top 5 percent of earners -- would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, solve the financial crisis facing the Social Security system.

So why don't we talk about raising or eliminating the cap -- a measure that has strong popular, though not elite, support?

Karen Engel

Oakland

Brown taking money away from the needy

There is much talk about creating fair immigration policy so that millions of people who reside permanently in the U.S. without "permission" can regain a modicum of basic rights that we have deprived them of.

Both parties echo the mantra, yet Gov. Jerry Brown has declared that he will take away state funding (from counties), funding that provides health care for the indigent.


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Among the 20 million-plus people not eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare), the undocumented make up about half.

Brown knows full well that Congress removed the undocumented from insurance coverage under the health care reform.

In California, these folks rely upon county-funded clinics. Like the removal of driver's licenses, Brown's intention denies common sense as it will create greater risks to all.

People denied coverage get sicker and end up at emergency rooms. California will have to reimburse hospitals, at higher cost, under the Hill-Burton act.

Does not our nation's founding Declaration read: We hold "that all men are created equal"?

Marc Sapir

Berkeley

AB 26 is yet another handout to Big Oil

The August explosion at Chevron Richmond proved refinery safety and community health are concerns requiring serious solutions.

Assembly Bill 26 isn't a solution but another corporate handout. California's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund was meant to help communities facing health and economic threats from climate change. AB 26 would use it to allow profit-rich oil companies to outsource jobs.

There's no evidence the contracted workers would be more skilled than those they replace, and there's nothing in AB 26 that would make anyone safer. Nor would the bill curb pollution -- California refineries would emit more CO2 per barrel processed than any other U.S. refining region.

AB 26 also defies public opinion: Californians overwhelmingly supported environmental protections when they rejected Proposition 23 in 2010.

The bill also institutes a dangerous, shortsighted "blame the worker" approach to safety instead of focusing on root causes. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board found, in part, that the Richmond fire resulted from Chevron ignoring six recommendations over 10 years to replace and monitor a corroded pipe.

Sadly, AB 26 would make it easier for oil companies to ignore real issues and make us all less safe as a result.

The Committee on Appropriations plans to consider AB 26 Friday. Tell them to reject it: apro.assembly.ca.gov/membersstaff.

Miya Yoshitani

Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Oakland

Bill Gallegos

Communities for a Better Environment, Oakland

Robert LaVenture

Western director of United Steelworkers

Self-protection a God-given right

The Times has printed many letters regarding the firearms issue. I believe that none have addressed the core issue.

I believe the right to self-protection is a God-given, natural right, not a privilege to be granted by the ruling class. The statist, collectivist mentality leads to the concept that individuals should be sacrificed for the "greater good."

I have written and called the offices of the elected politicians who (mis)represent me. Thus far, I have not received an answer to my question: Why is the type of firearm used by Adam Lanza at Newtown, Conn., an inappropriate and ineffective self-defense weapon? Also, where is it written that intruders will always be singular?

Has Vice President Joe Biden directed the people who defend him to use only double-barrel shotguns, as per his recommendation for those not of the ruling class?

Edward Zawatson

Concord