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Saturday’s letters: Majority party’s failure to lead

Trump exhorts GOP on budget | Oct. 23

Majority party’s failure to lead

The current national Republican majority, and its unpopular ideas, cannot convince Americans. They pushed a health care bill disliked by up to 75 percent of the American people. They held no public hearings. They didn’t seek out the input of the stakeholders in the health industry. Several politicians said they didn’t like the bills, but they had to pass something and this was all they had. Is that all the American people deserve? The current actions cutting health care subsidies will cause millions to lose coverage and cost the taxpayers billions, but still they go ahead. That is governing malpractice.

Now we see the same scenario playing out on tax cuts (they are instructed to no longer say tax reform). The previous budget hawks who detested spending and spoke relentlessly of the damage of the debt to our children and grandchildren in tones of doom, no longer seem to care about that issue. They have a frantic desire to pass something. Anything. Put something on the board.

Republicans, if you believe in what you are doing, make your arguments. Hold public hearings. Put experts on both sides up in the hearings so Americans can decide what they think. Try to pass your bill through the regular order, and not with only Republican votes. If your plan really benefits everyone as you say, 60 votes will come. Trying to push it through reconciliation where you only need Republicans shows a complete lack of faith in your arguments and your ability to convince. And govern.

Bill Baird, St. Petersburg

Time to say, ‘Enough’ | Oct. 26, commentary

Leaving isn’t the answer

It is regrettable that Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have decided not to run for re-election. They and Sen. John McCain are the only people in office who have had the courage to speak truth to power. They must know that many of us share their dissatisfaction with the president’s rhetoric and behavior. Yet they have chosen to abandon ship just as it is about to sink into a sea of lies.

They may well believe their chances of being re-elected are slim, but their leaving office frightens those of us who fear that the crew remaining in Washington will be made up solely of sycophants and cowards.

Ernest W. Bartow, St. Petersburg

Actions would have helped

While it is nice to see senators like Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and John McCain call out Donald Trump for his recklessness and dishonesty, the country would be much better off had their recently discovered virtue arrived back when it could have done some good.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were confirmed with just 52 votes in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence had to break a 50-50 tie to confirm Betsy DeVos as education secretary. Pruitt, a climate change denier, has set about destroying the agency he is supposed to lead. DeVos has zero experience as an educator and doesn’t seem to believe in public schools. Sessions, his record already stained by a history of racism, has proven to be almost as dishonest as Trump.

A Trump presidency was always going to be a disaster, but the Cabinet he has selected — and which Corker, Flake and McCain all voted to confirm — has made it even worse. And of the three, only McCain had the courage and integrity to stand up and block the effort to take health care away from millions of Americans.

These senators — like many other Republicans — now recognize the damage being done to our country, and our standing around the world, by a president who lacks even the most basic sense of decency, common sense or self-control. But it will take more than words — especially belated ones — to save the country from further damage.

Buck Beasom, Tampa

Health Literacy Month

Understanding your health

Should we evacuate if a hurricane is coming our way? How do I choose a plan from the health insurance marketplace? Do I still need to worry about Zika? Why are healthy teeth and gums important during pregnancy? Should my son or daughter receive the HPV vaccine?

Each day we must make important choices that affect our health. However, nine out of 10 adults have difficulty applying health information, according to the 2010 U.S. National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy.

October is Health Literacy Month. According to the Institutes of Medicine, health literacy "is the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions." Although the field of health literacy is still evolving, it is well established that people need skills to find and use information and services in ways that are clear, understandable and meaningful, particularly given the diversity of our cultural backgrounds.

Health literacy can affect a range of outcomes: lifestyle behaviors, such as good nutrition; preventive screenings, such as the Pap test; patient-doctor communication and satisfaction; and chronic disease management, such as controlling diabetes. Limited health literacy is also associated with emergency room and hospitalization visits, poorer overall health status, higher mortality, and significant economic costs for both the individual and society.

To find out more about how to develop materials and communicate in plain language, visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/.

Cheryl A. Vamos, Ph.D., MPH, Tampa

Industry insider shapes EPA rules | Oct. 22

More pollution on the way

As a believer in consumer and environmental protections, I think President Donald Trump’s appointee, Nancy Beck, to the Environmental Protection Agency is in the wrong by insisting on rewriting rules to make it harder to track the health consequences of chemicals, and therefore making it harder to regulate them. Beck’s decision is a huge step backward in public safety and the environment. One of the chemicals in question is known to cause kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other problems. Is it fair that in order to make a profit our health is jeopardized?

Carolina Neyra, Tampa