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Economy Needs Regulatory Reform as Much as Tax Cuts
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Economy Needs Regulatory Reform as Much as Tax Cuts

BY Alice Click

Tax cuts aren't the only answer to kickstarting the economy. For consumers, this means higher prices and fewer jobs. The burden from excessive regulation and litigation also slow the economy. Regulatory reform is just as important as tax reform for strengthening the economy.

07/01/2003
Let workers control their Social Security
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Let workers control their Social Security

BY ALICE CLICK

Social Security reform is perhaps the most important issue for the 2004 elections. The current system is failing, threatening the 232,000 retirees who receive Social Security in West Virginia. If Social Security is not reformed, it will begin to run deficits by 2018. The system as a whole will be completely bankrupt by the year 2042. Then we will be forced to either raise taxes or decrease benefits. Neither option is acceptable.

06/01/2003
Current Tax Code isn't Fair, Low or Even Honest
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Current Tax Code isn't Fair, Low or Even Honest

BY Alice Click

Did you do your own taxes this year or did you hire an accountant? If you wanted to calculate your own taxes this year, could you? If not, don't feel so bad. Nearly 56 percent of Americans had to hire a tax professional to do their taxes. In fact, we spent an estimated $86 billion to have someone else figure out exactly what the government wants from us. Taxes and the tax season that never ends have become absurd. At one time - long, long ago - our tax system actually made some sense. Once a year (April 15) you pay a certain specified amount to the government for the benefit of having a national defense and a few other services. Somehow this simple system became twisted and bent, abused and perverted. Consider the following: If you include footnotes and instructions, our tax code currently runs over 50,000 pages. In 2002, individuals, businesses and non-profits spent an estimated 5.8 billion hours complying with the federal income tax code with an estimated compliance cost of over $194 billion. The average family today pays more in taxes than it spends on food, clothing, shelter and transportation combined. Sound like a prescription for reform to you? It is incredible that we have allowed our tax code to wrap itself so maliciously into our daily lives. Instead of once a year, people now must consider the effect of taxes on every-day decisions. Want to have a child? What are the tax implications and do you qualify for any credits? Want to get married - can't afford the increased tax burden? Want to die? That is a real taxable event too. There is no way to "fix" the system - no amount of cosmetic surgery will make our tax code a fair and honest system that allows citizens to judge whether the government is taking a proper amount of their earnings and livelihood. The only answer is to eliminate the entire system and start over from scratch. The tax code should be fair, low and honest - our current tax system is none of those. There are plenty of alternative solutions to our current tax code out there. Some potential remedies include a flat tax, a sales tax and a value-added tax, just to name a few. But for now the important thing is that we understand that the great social experiment known as the income tax has failed. Our tax code has failed. We need to enlist an army of citizens to demand change. Citizens for a Sound Economy is providing a toll-free hotline so that you can tell Congress to "Scrap the Tax Code." Call 1-888-564-6273 and you will be transferred to the office of your representative in Congress. We need a grassroots groundswell for fundamental tax reform. That change can begin with your call demanding a change.

04/13/2003
Wise Drug Plan is the Wrong Prescription
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Wise Drug Plan is the Wrong Prescription

BY Alice Click

Would you rather have the government or your doctor prescribing the drugs you need for heart disease and cancer? West Virginia will be forced to use cheaper drugs that are often not as effective as original drugs if Gov. Bob Wise gets the pharmaceutical plan he wants. When the government buys drugs, it must ration them. The Wise plan could be costly, and a deadly mistake. A Canadian-style system to control pharmaceutical prices is what the governor has proposed. But if he gets his way, West Virginians will have fewer drug choices and longer, more costly illnesses. Faced with a state budget crisis, deepened by rising Medicaid costs, Wise blames higher drug prices for the state's fiscal woes and wants drug makers to charge the same prices set by the Canadian government, not by the market place. Sounds good? Citizens for a Sound Economy states otherwise. As a result of Canadian price fixing, more of the newer and more effective pharmaceuticals for cancer and hypertension are unavailable there. Because prescription drugs are more often used for preventive care, they stave off more debilitating, more costly medical conditions requiring expensive and lengthy hospitalization. With a $600 annual prescription for two leading cholesterol-reducing drugs may seem expensive, it is the long-term effect of those drugs that helps avert an emergency bypass operation and lengthy hospital stay. Socialized medicine is touted as a cure-all for expensive medical care. Yet, how many of us would wish to be put on a waiting list for gall-bladder surgery or a heart-bypass surgery? With Wise's plan, West Virginians may see a drastic reduction of services and lack of availability of life-saving drugs. Already U.S. generic drugs are less expensive than those under the price-controlled Canadian system. Is there more in Wise's initiative than meets the eye? Could it be the governor has a long affiliation with the fat-cat lobbying groups who may reap billions of dollars in windfalls if more patients are forced to switch to generic drugs. With no private sector alternatives, patients have no choice but to accept what the government - not their doctor - decides is best. It has been suggested a market-oriented plan can be devised to help poor and low-income people get the medicine they need. This could be part of a competitive prescription drug benefit system that lets consumers shop around - choosing the health-care coverage that suits their needs and their pocketbooks. Competition in the pharmaceutical industry and wider choices are needed among public and private benefit plans - not a price-controlled Canadian system. It comes down to this: Will it be the doctor or government prescribing our drugs?

03/02/2003