GOP plan to cut our way to fiscal stability lacks necessary balance
Early on March 23, the U.S. Senate approved a budget for 2014, the first by the Senate in four years.
The budget calls for about $1 trillion of tax increases and about $875 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. The spending cuts come from reduction in federal health care programs, domestic and military spending and reduced interest on borrowed money.
This budget presents an obvious solution to our country’s financial problems — increasing taxes while cutting spending. This is what an American family would do if they faced financial difficulty, get a part-time job and lower the heat a little bit. Americans know fighting two wars and a severe financial crisis without providing proper funding caused big problems.
As unappealing as it is, most American are not freeloaders and are willing to pay increased taxes if it will get us out of this mess. Unfortunately, Republicans, especially those in the House who must also approve a budget, do not see it this way. Their plan calls for reduced spending only. This is akin to solving your financial problems by turning down the heat, selling the house, stopping food purchases and eliminating six-packs.
The Republican plan calls for major cuts to almost all programs and transforming Medicare into a voucher program for the states. This will effectively destroy Medicare as we know it. Why anyone would suggest eliminating Medicare, which has helped almost all retired Americans over the last 60 years, defies reason.
Medicare does have problems; it’s going bankrupt. But rather than killing the system, let’s fix it. People are living longer now, so why don’t we adjust the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to, say, 68 or 70? This only makes sense.
In addition, Medicare is paid for by a 1.45 percent payroll tax on employees and employers. This small amount used to be enough. Now, though, with the high cost of medical care and fewer workers, 1.45 percent won’t cover the costs.
The answer should be obvious, even to a Republican congressman: Increase the payroll tax on the employee and the employer to, say, 2 percent or 3 percent. This will still result in the best and cheapest medical service you can buy.
Let’s tell Congress to fix the system rather than destroy it.
More birds than ever in this sanctuary
Re the March 24 front page story, “Where did the birds go?”: They’ve come to our back yard.
Waves of gold and purple finches, pine siskin, and [an] occasional Redpoll. We have a pair of red-bellied woodpeckers and other woodpeckers, a pair of cardinals, an occasional blue jay, lots of chickadees, Junco, Nuthatches and Titmice. It’s like “bird land” here. They perch in our homey locust tree and Bradford tree next door or go to the tall tress in the back.
I feed them black wildflower seed and suet — our seed feeder is usually empty by morning’s end. And we have two marsh hawks that live in a field next door.
I have never seen so many birds. It’s as unusual as seeing none.
English-only voting rule doesn’t quite make sense
I’ll admit that as a language teacher, my first response to Don Vanderwarker’s [March 23] and Shirley Guidarelli’s [March 15] suggestions that in order to vote in the United States, one must understand English, was a negative one. But upon further reflection, I think they may be onto something.
Perhaps we should make it a requirement that before anyone (as in Congress, for one example) votes or serves on committees affecting matters in the Middle East, they should speak Arabic and Hebrew.
Perhaps before anyone votes on matters concerning science (women’s health, geology, climatology, etc.) they should have to take a little test to prove they actually know something about the realities. If we could have a knowledgeable electorate, it would be a good thing!
I do have a question though: Why would one think that people can’t be educated and well informed through languages other than English?
Better editing might improve newspapers’ fate
[According to the March 22 Wall Street Journal], “the decision ... clears the way for 21st CMH Acquisition Corp. to buy the assets of the Journal Register Co. for $114 million in secured debt and $6 million case [sic] .”
That sentence, in part, may explain the slow demise of newspapers in America.