Mitt Romney parrots the standard Republican line that raising marginal tax rates for top income earners will stifle job creation ("Battle is joined over jobs, taxes," Oct. 4). Just once I would like someone to point out that employees of these small businesses are not paid out of after-tax income.

Marginal tax rates notwithstanding, no business owner is going to hire or retain for very long a worker whose production cannot be translated into gross receipts that exceed the cost of employing that worker. Labor costs include the employer's FICA and FUTA contributions and, for some, the costs of benefits such as health insurance, but not the taxes that the business owner pays on his income. The costs of hiring a worker, like any other costs involved with the expansion of a business, will be incurred only if there is a reasonable expectation that demand for the services or products of the business will justify and ultimately pay for the increased costs.

At a top marginal rate of 90 percent, as actually existed when President John F. Kennedy cut taxes in the early 1960s, or even 70 percent as existed when President Ronald Reagan cut taxes in the 1980s, an argument can be made that what is left for the business owner is too small to encourage the additional work or risk that is necessary to produce the additional income. That same argument is not credible when we're talking about the difference between 35 percent and 39 percent at the top end.

Charles C. Roberts, Mt. Airy