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June 29th, 2009
06:05 AM ET

Feeling over-taxed?

Editor's Note: CNN’s Carol Costello reports on hot topics stirring debate across the country. Just Sayin’ aims to be provocative and encourage thoughtful discussion. Join the conversation.

September 12, 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama made this pledge:

"No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."

But, what's up with this?

February 5, 2009, President Barack Obama signed a health insurance bill for children funded almost entirely by boosting the federal tax on cigarettes by nearly 300 percent.

And this:

June 24, 2009, the president said he'd be open to the idea of taxing employee health care benefits.

Does this mean that President Obama has changed his mind?

Not necessarily. He did give middle-class Americans a break by making the Bush tax cuts permanent and by distributing millions in tax credits.

So why do some Americans feel over-taxed? Well, it turns out there's more than one way to tax a taxpayer.


Filed under: Just Sayin'
June 29th, 2009
06:03 AM ET

Gay soldier: Don't fire me

Editor’s note: Lt. Daniel Choi is a founding member of Knights Out, an organization of out Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) West Point Alumni. An estimated 65,000 LGBT Americans serve in the armed forces. The views expressed here are Dan Choi’s personal views and not those of the Department of Defense or the Department of the Army.
[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Lt. Daniel Choi is an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic."]

By Lt. Daniel Choi
Special to CNN

Open Letter to President Obama and Every Member of Congress:

I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.

At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to "choose the harder right over the easier wrong" and to "never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won." The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.

Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.

I have personally served for a decade under Don't Ask, Don't Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me.


Filed under: Commentary • Gay Rights • Military
June 29th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

What’s on Tap – Monday June 29, 2009

A removal vehicle leaves the rented Holmby Hills home of music legend Michael Jackson after his recent death, in Los Angeles on June 27, 2009. Getty Images
A removal vehicle leaves the rented Holmby Hills home of music legend Michael Jackson after his recent death, in Los Angeles on June 27, 2009. Getty Images

Here are the big stories on the agenda today:

  • The doctor who was the last person to see Michael Jackson alive was interviewed for three hours by police over the weekend.  His lawyer was in the room and will join us live with a timeline of the singer's final moments, and the efforts to revive him.
  • The death of TV’s most popular pitchman.  Billy Mays died hours after hitting his head on a hard landing.  He's the guy who had you running to the phone saying, "I gotta have this."  He made people with big ideas – millionaires.  Other passengers are talking about what happened inside that plane.  An autopsy is planned for today.
  • It's judgment day for the face of corruption in this country, convicted con man Bernie Madoff.  The biggest rip-off artist in history – could spend the rest of his life in prison.  Some of his 8,000 victims will be there to send him off.

Filed under: What's On Tap
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