Magazine

Tax-Law Changes and the Ballooning U.S. Deficit


In "Wanted: A bold budget debate" (Editorials, June 10), you judged the Democrats to be in the wrong for blaming President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the deterioration in the U.S. fiscal situation. Facts suggest that they are not exactly guilty as you charge.

In testimony to the Senate Budget Committee on Jan. 23, 2002, the director of the Congressional Budget Office presented a table that attributes 60% of the deterioration in the projected surplus for the period 2002-11 to legislative changes. Specifically, 30% is attributable to tax-law changes.

In 2002, only about 10% of the shift from a surplus of $313 billion to a deficit of $21 billion was attributed to tax-law changes. However, that was in January when the deficit was projected to be about only $21 billion for the year. With estimates of the deficit for the fiscal year ending September, 2002, now ranging from $100 billion to $150 billion, it remains to be seen how big the role of the tax cuts was.

V. Anantha-Nageswaran

Credit Suisse

Singapore "Cool Korea" (International Business, June 10) fascinated me because I got to see the names of two of my favorite Korean pop acts in print in an American magazine. You say: "Sixteen-year-old teen pop diva BoA's first album, Don't Start Now, has dominated the charts in Japan this year." But Don't Start Now was BoA's "1.5 Special" album (the release between her first and second). It did not dominate the Oricon charts in Japan. It was not until her fourth single, Listen to My Heart, reached No.1 on the Oricon Weekly Chart that she truly established herself in the J-pop market. Because of this success and her growing popularity, BoA released a full-length Japanese album and re-released her Korean albums in Japan. Her sixth single is the Japanese version of the song Don't Start Now.

You also say: "H.O.T., a boy band that blends hip-hop, R&B, and dance music, is big in China." H.O.T. was indeed the biggest Korean pop group and was very well-received in China, prompting SM Entertainment as well as other Korean record companies to introduce more Korean pop culture to China and Taiwan. But H.O.T. has been disbanded for nearly a year.

Stina Chyn

Atlanta

Editor's note: Writer Chyn is correct on both points.

Having spent two separate years in Korea, 1996 and 2000, I was impressed with Korea's economic boom. However, you should have stated that the U.S. military personnel stationed in Korea since the 1950s have stabilized and protected that country. Without the U.S. military, Korea might not have had the chance to "blossom" into the high-tech, cool status it has today.

Craig Carpenter

Calcium, N.Y. "The threat of protectionism" (Editorials, June 3) says that "unqualified support of free trade makes for sound politics as well as sound economics." Should international trade not have some element of justice? "Unqualified" free trade forces U.S. businesses and workers to compete with foreign workers who are making less than enough to provide a minimally decent standard of living. Is it just that those of us who are fortunate enough to have a decent standard of living enjoy low prices because someone who made the product gets $2 per day?

Would it not be just for the U.S. to say that we will not accept imports unless the workers are paid a minimum of, say, $6 per hour? Such a policy would raise living standards and permit all workers to have at least some human dignity, to which we are all entitled.

Gregory Hurley

West Point, Ga. While most of your observations were on track, "HDTV: High-anxiety television" (BusinessWeek Lifestyle, June 10) contained two facts that are incorrect.

You refer to the 720p high-definition format as a small-cinema format that is better than 480p but not as good as 1080i. In 1998, TV industry experts on the Advanced Television Systems Committee determined that 720 lines progressively scanned produced equal or better HD pictures than 1080i, which is why 720p was included in the HDTV standard. Without getting involved in technical minutiae, suffice it to say that progressively scanned images produce sharper pictures--if this were not the case, computer displays would be interlaced. On both large and small displays, 720p produces sharper pictures.

Also, the ABC television network sends out more than "a few" of its prime-time shows in 720p HDTV. Beginning last September, ABC began broadcasting all of our scripted prime-time programming--including all of our dramas and comedies and the majority of our Saturday and Sunday movies.

Also, ABC is the only major broadcast TV network that lives up to the "full" DTV standard by regularly providing 5.1-channel surround sound during all of its HD broadcasts.

Preston Davis

President

Broadcast Operations & Engineering

ABC Inc.

New York

If you buy an HDTV or "HD-ready" set today, it will not be obsolete next year. It will give you spectacular performance from DVD. If you add an HD satellite receiver from DirecTV or DISH Network, you will be able to get Showtime and HBO in high definition. On DirecTV, you'll also get 24-hour, mostly sports HDNet in HD. On DISH, you'll get CBS in HD. These boxes will also get network terrestrial HD feeds. Next fall, all of CBS' evening programming will be in HD. NBC will deliver 11 prime-time hours weekly, and ABC will do likewise, meaning HDTV is happening much faster than color did a few decades ago.

Millions of Americans will find that they can buy a set, have a dish and antenna installed, and watch 100 or more hours of HDTV programming every week.

Michael Fremer

Wyckoff, N.J.

Editor's note: The writer is a contributing editor to Stereophile Guide to Home Theater.

I'm ready to spend big dollars to get that perfect HDTV system. However, I always remained confused whenever I spoke with "experts" as to the best course of action. Now I have the information I need: wait.

Ken Fries

Muskego, Wis. Although I did not speak with your reporter, my name was mentioned in "You're either for Lou--or agin' him" (Up Front, May 27). The article implied that Louis Rukeyser has pressured panelists not to appear on his former program, Wall Street Week. To set the record straight, I declined to appear on the program out of loyalty because I was appalled that Maryland Public Broadcasting had replaced, then fired, Rukeyser. I declined before I had spoken with him, and well before he had lined up another program. At no time has Rukeyser or anyone associated with him suggested that I or, to my knowledge, any of the other panelists, should not appear on the old program.

Mary C. Farrell

Investment Strategist

UBS PaineWebber

New York


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