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The real shame in Congress’ obsessing and deadlocking on what to cut from the federal budget, including defense, to “manage the deficit” (“DOD spending cuts: Dangerous or overdue?,” article, Nov. 17) is that it is so unnecessary.

There is another approach that will accomplish the same result of eliminating the deficit over time without raising current tax rates or reducing federal benefits or defense spending: Make the economy grow. For every new high-wage job created, the federal income tax base expands proportionately and results in higher tax receipts at current federal tax rates. (This should be obvious since the Congressional Budget Office has consistently shown statistically that the largest contributor to the deficit has been continuously falling federal tax revenue during the Great Recession and the anemic “recovery,” and not spending by Congress.)

However, to achieve national economic growth sufficient to achieve that result will require Congress and the White House to agree on a complete overhaul of the federal income tax code and a national reindustrialization fiscal policy. And since, in the midst of the fourth consecutive year of a national economic crisis, neither branch of government has even been able to agree on a “temporary, infrastructure jobs bill” proposed back in September, perhaps it is time for experienced administrators such as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to show them the way to national economy recovery. And by doing so, ensure that defense spending will be adequately maintained to meet all future military challenges presented by an increasingly politically unstable and resource-limited world.

Craig Cotora

Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan

Online degrees often work out

The author of the Nov. 15 letter “Be wary of for-profit schools,” a reply to the Nov. 11 opinion piece “Military students thrive in, enhance the classroom,” seems to lack knowledge or understanding of the online classroom.

First, I want to thank him for warning me that online classrooms are pointless. I can now stop working 16 hours a day here in Kabul and go back to praying that someday I will have the chance to take traditional classes at Harvard or Yale. Second, I would like to point out that not everyone has the chance to attend traditional classes. Due to workloads, kids, deployments, etc., it is sometimes difficult to attend the traditional brick-and-mortar schools.

Do online classes have the popularity or significance of Columbia or Yale? Absolutely not. But in my case, as well as most others who have deployed or are currently deployed, it is all we have. What does the letter writer suggest military members do when they are deployed for years at a time?

Next, where is his empirical evidence that “no serious employer in a serious profession” takes these degrees [from for-profit institutions] seriously? I’ll offer my evidence to the contrary: The undergraduate degree I received was from an online college (for-profit) and I am now working for a Fortune 500 company. I also worked for another Fortune 500 company and both have provided tuition assistance for online colleges.

I am in no way saying that all online colleges offer competitive degrees. I am saying that not all online, for-profit colleges are cheap and inadequate.

In closing I would like to ask a question: Why is it OK for state universities, but not for-profit colleges, to offer online classes, when both have regional and national accreditation?

Charles Wilson

Kabul

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