Posted: November 27, 2012

HERE'S PRESIDENT Obama in August 2009 regarding the link between tax increases, recessions, and business growth: "The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up - take more demand out of the economy and put business in a further hole."

Today, in a still-weak economy, raising taxes has moved from being the "last thing" to do to being Mr. Obama's top priority. Single-handedly, Obamacare, counting premium mandates and penalties, is likely to become the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

And that's just the beginning. On the Obama administration's to-do list in order to create a world that's fairer and cleaner are higher taxes on dividends, capital gains, high-earners, interest income, overseas profits, inheritances and fossil fuels.

When President Obama delivered the warning about the negative impact on business from hiking taxes during a recession, the U.S. economy was growing at a faster pace than this year's economy. "Real GDP increased 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2009," reports the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

This year's economic growth, in contrast, makes the August 2009 quarter look good. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that "real GDP in the United States expanded 2.0 percent in third quarter of 2012" and "1.3 percent in the second quarter of 2012."

We're now three years past Mr. Obama's anti-tax, pro-business prescription for economic recovery, and the federal debt has expanded by $3.6 trillion, the real unemployment rate is 15 percent (counting the unemployed who've quit looking for work and counting the "involuntary part-timers" who can't find full-time employment), economic growth is substantially lower than in August 2009, and President Obama is no longer saying that raising taxes in a bad economy is the "last thing" to do.

So we're not now in an official recession, just the worst recovery since World War II, so now it's OK to raise taxes and put "business in a further hole?"

Ralph R. Reiland

Associate professor of economics

Robert Morris University, Pittsburgh

Take time for the holiday

By all accounts, Thanksgiving is getting gobbled up by Black Friday. All folks seem to have on their minds is the day after Thanksgiving - now referred to as Black Friday - when retailers offer their goods at bargain-basement prices.

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was strictly for celebrating with loved ones and stores were closed. As far as I remember, the term "Black Friday" hadn't yet been conceived. Even though sales were plentiful, folks weren't camping out in front of stores, nor did merchants open their doors at ungodly hours. Nowadays, retailers can't open their doors early enough - with Black Friday now spilling over to Thursday.

My suggestion is to either move the sales back to pre-Thanksgiving or to the Saturday after Thanksgiving. At least it will give folks a chance to celebrate the holiday, enjoy their feast and digest their food - so that they won't have to eat and run. On second thought, a good long walk wouldn't hurt.

JoAnn Lee Frank

Clearwater, FL

Black Friday's dark side

In observing all that surrounded Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales this year, one must come to grips with the extent to which our society is in decline.

Not only is the lust for bargains and profit further encroaching on a day once considered sacred, but many of the bargain-crazed shoppers show that they will stop at nothing to come away with what they "must" have.

Again this year there are reports of shootings (one fool pulled out a gun at a Florida Walmart and began firing over a parking-space dispute), fights, and customers almost literally engaging in "door-busting" after being lined up to be among the first to walk away with a prized television or some other material item. (Hundreds of screeching, wailing teenage girls were outside the store in advance of the opening of a Victoria's Secret outlet at a Kansas mall in their quest for bargain-priced lingerie.)

There is no reason that sales could not be conducted both online and within reasonable hours on Friday to tamp down the level of madness in which many engage, but stores seem to prefer stoking it by offering special deals that are available in limited quantities with no rainchecks. I know of at least one chain that offered gift cards to the first hundred individuals through the door - another wonderful way to foment a riot.

The actions of some shoppers/thugs are incongruous with the reason that Christmas is celebrated, to mark and celebrate the birth of the man known as "The Prince of Peace." Peace was in short supply at many stores in which wide-eyed shoppers made their mark. I hope they are proud of themselves and they enjoy their hard-fought treasures. Merry Christmas!

Oren M. Spiegler

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

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