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Short takes: Who's paying the taxes?

PRESIDENT Obama and congressional Democrats are approaching the nation's $16 trillion debt problem by waving a tired political slogan: "The rich should pay their fair share."

This is the old magician's trick: Direct people's attention elsewhere so as to divert attention from what you're really up to - in this case, more spending.

The sheer dishonesty of the tax-the-rich talk is breathtaking.

Based on 2009 tax returns, the top 1 percent of American income earners - adjusted gross income of $343,927 or more - pay almost 37 percent of income taxes, said Kiplinger magazine.

The top 5 percent of American earners have adjusted gross incomes of $154,643 or more, and pay almost 59 percent of income taxes.

Even bankrupting "the rich" wouldn't close the gap. The real money is in the middle class.

Furthermore, raising tax rates not only tanks the economy, it produces less tax revenue.

Democrats know this, yet they have laid down an ultimatum: As summed up by Daniel Henninger of The Wall Street Journal, it is this: They want a $1.6 trillion tax increase revenue, $50 billion more in immediate stimulus spending, and the end of congressional approval of increases in the national debt.

"We're not going to play that game next year," the president told the Business Roundtable.

The president and congressional Democrats will talk about spending cuts only after Republicans meet their demands.

The tax-the-rich mantra is nothing more than an attempt to distract the public from the fact that Democrats want to keep right on spending more money than they are given - and are quite willing to push the bill on to the next generation.

Republicans should stand foursquare against such outrageous budgetary dishonesty.

THE estate of the late Lawson Hamilton this week donated eight acres of land to the city of Charleston. The transaction was brokered by the Charleston Land Trust, which seeks to preserve green space in the city.

It's a lovely gift to the public.

The eight-acre tract will connect Danner Meadow Park, which is near Gordon Drive in Fort Hill, to the Kanawha Turnpike below. Board member Bill Mills said the trust hopes to have a walking and biking trail open this summer.

An access road already runs from the turnpike to near Danner Meadow, and a trailhead already exists at the park. No funds will be needed to develop the land.

City Councilman Tom Lane, a member of the land trust board, called the development "a remarkable achievement," adding: "We need to look at the future and have all our trails connected to little parks."

It does spark the imagination, doesn't it?

AFTER the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack that destroyed Tower 7 of the World Trade Center, plaintiffs filed suit against United Airlines.

Plaintiffs alleged that the airline was partly liable for the destruction because two hijackers passed through an airport security checkpoint in Portland, Maine.

In November - 11 long years later - U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan dismissed the airline from the case and noted the obvious: "United had no connection to Flight 11 or its hijackers."

The company that is developing towers at the site, has a separate suit against United over the second plane that was flown into the World Trade Center.

Spokesman Bud Perrone told Bloomberg News that his company hopes to force the defendants' insurance companies to "pay up in order to finish the rebuilding of the World Trade Center."

His company is also suing Delta Airlines, the Massachusetts Port Authority, Boeing, US Airways Group, Midway Airlines and Pinkerton's.

They contend the developers have already been "fully compensated" by insurance for the devastation.

But they are still having to fork over the money to defend themselves 11 years later.


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