Republicans focus on cutting government spending, but this is largely a ruse to dismantle the New Deal and social programs like Social Security,Medicare and Medicaid. They are quick to reduce benefits to the sick, elderly and the poor while protecting the interests of the wealthy.

Greater emphasis is needed to reform the revenue side of the equation by eliminating tax cuts for the super-rich, eliminating subsidies to big agriculture, pharmaceuticals and the oil industry, and eliminating tax shelters to global corporations that evade paying taxes by shifting profits overseas.

Medicare and Social Security are functioning as intended but require changes in how they are paid for. For example why are only first $106,000 of salaries subject to Social Security taxes? Why not all salaries, including those of upper-income Americans?

This is important to cutting the deficit, but a far greater priority is the real crisis facing America: 14 million people out of work and millions of homeowners underwater in their mortgages and facing foreclosure.

With low interest rates, the cost of servicing our debt is now probably lower than it has been for some time. The debt problem needs to be fixed, but only after the economy and the job situation recover.

Jack Kinstlinger, Baltimore