Balanced budget amendment
Congress should just do its job
We do not need a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. The Constitution assigns to Congress the authority to draft and pass a government budget.
Any member of Congress who advocates for a balanced-budget amendment should immediately be recalled — he is announcing that he is not exercising either the responsibility or the courage to do the job for which he campaigned and was elected. If Congress wants a balanced budget, it does not need an amendment to the Constitution; it simply needs to pass one.
We need members of Congress who are more concerned about the future of the nation than they are about the future of their party and/or their prospects in the next election cycle. We need voters who will stop letting their party think for them and who pay more attention to what their representative and senators do and less attention to what they say.
William Carroll, Gulfport
Dial up jail time for phone bill cramming July 18, editorial
Verizon against cramming
Verizon does not tolerate cramming.
When cramming happens, we risk losing customers. And, while cramming complaints to Verizon represent less than 1 percent of the more than 1 million landline bills Verizon processes each month nationally that include third-party charges, we take an aggressive stance when third-party service providers include unauthorized charges on our customers' bills. For instance, we revoke billing privileges of any third-party service provider if they exceed our stringent cramming requirements.
Since 1999, Verizon has offered a cramming block service called Bill Block to customers at no charge. We proactively notify new consumers and those who contact us with service changes about this free service.
In addition, under our "first call resolution policy" — also introduced in 1999 — we will remove a third-party charge with no questions asked if a customer contacts us and says that such a charge appearing on his/her bill is unauthorized.
Because it is impractical for Verizon to know what third-party services our customers ordered, we take their word when they tell us they did not order a particular service that appeared on their bill. For this reason, and as a generally good practice, we always advise our customers to look closely at their monthly bills for accuracy in the same way they should examine any other bill or statement they receive.
Michelle A. Robinson, president, Southeast Region, Verizon, Temple Terrace
Clean bill on debt limit
The debt ceiling action is urgent. It should not be made contingent on anything else. Any action on spending changes is something that should be thought out and negotiated without the artificial time limit related to the debt ceiling.
The spending changes and any taxing changes are too complicated a subject to be subjected to such a limit. The action of our politicians connecting the two is ludicrous.
Bill Balmer, Seminole
Both parties should budge
The Republicans don't want to increase taxes on the wealthy. The Democrats don't want to mess with entitlements. This country is in grave economic shape, and it's time both parties quit playing games and get serious. Why don't they just step up and put everything on the table. No exceptions, period.
Cut all federal employee pay by a percentage point or two. Cut all entitlements by the same amount. Cut all government spending programs by the same percentage point or two. Increase all taxes and fees by the same amount.
We're all in this together, and nobody could justifiably squabble, because everybody would be being treated the same. Sure, it might hurt a little bit, and for sure, it wouldn't pass. It's much too logical.
Jack Pyle, Tierra Verde
In a recent constituent e-mail, U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent cited possible interruption in Social Security benefits as a "scare tactic" by President Barack Obama to force raising the debt ceiling. This is ironic inasmuch as Social Security is the type of "socialistic" program that tea party Republicans seek to eliminate or curtail.
I would like Nugent to explain why restoring the tax base to pre-Bush rates for those making more than $250,000 is so repugnant to him. What is his resistance to eliminating tax subsidies for oil companies?
The middle class continues to shrink. There is an active effort to foster resentment toward those who make a modest five-figure living wage along with decent — not extravagant — benefits.
Meanwhile, tea party Republicans bow to the bidding of their billionaire sponsors.
You better believe I am afraid, but not of losing my Social Security benefits. I am fearful of further economic policies that benefit only the very rich.
Gail A. Reynolds, Dade City
Few vie for council seats | July 17
Thanks to overbearing and unnecessary scrutiny of public officials' personal lives and issues, as well as demands of them for perfection, there will be few people left to take these jobs in the future. Why would anyone want to run for City Council, local boards or higher office these days?
If there is anyone who does not have a "skeleton in his closet," please stand up. All of us have personal issues and past things we have done we are not proud of. And we all make mistakes. We are human. So are they.
If the media would concentrate on the real issues at hand, which are urgent and dire in these times — rather than a school superintendent's divorce, an airport director making a minor mistake in bid paperwork, or politicians and their infidelity — maybe these folks could actually concentrate on their jobs and get something done.
I applaud the would-be St. Petersburg City Council candidates for telling it like it is as to why they will not seek office.
Jeff Francis, St. Petersburg