Health care law
Lies still distort public discourse
In their first legislative move since gaining power after the midterm elections, the House Republicans have officially rebranded the Obama health care law as "job killing." But any attempt to overturn what is now established law appears futile. Thus, note savvy liberals, there is nothing to get upset about. The Senate will reject this effort, and of course the president retains veto power.
This may be true, but the cynical rebranding of the bill as "job killing" — despite a lack of evidence to back up such an audacious claim — is disturbing. This smear appears to be a continuation of the nonsense that surfaced last year: outlandish assertions that the president intended to set up "death panels" and "pull the plug on grandma." Such lies grossly distort public discourse and portend a bleak political future.
With foreknowledge that a strangely compliant press will never hold Republican leaders accountable for their falsehoods, these politicos will carry on with their charade unchecked. Constant repetition certainly succeeds in altering public opinion, as marketers prove every day. And so House Speaker John Boehner and his minions will continue to reframe issues according to political expediency rather than reality. The "big lie" works, especially in an age when too many journalists treat outright fabrication as just another viewpoint. The Alice in Wonderland quality of it all should strike every thinking person with genuine alarm.
C.S. Monaco, Micanopy
Lack of respect
The health care conversation has to stop being packaged for sound bites and tweets. I do not have access to veterans benefits; I am too young for Medicare; I am not indigent. I am an advanced-stage cancer survivor and the source of insurance for my young family. I have worked hard even through the debilitating cancer treatments, driven by love for my family.
There is a chance I could lose my job to offshoring, and there is a chance my cancer will come back. Should either occur, my family will be torn apart without access to affordable insurance.
After listening to my nearly desperate plea to fix, not repeal, this law (much of which is Bush-era Republican ideas), Rep. C.W. Bill Young's office then referred to the legislation as "Obamacare." Personalizing this issue in such a way at that very moment made me realize that we have reached a point where our disdain and contempt for Democrats runs far deeper than our passion for family and respect for human dignity.
Debra Sheldon, Dunedin
Baptist Home official new DCF head | Jan. 18
Big shoes to fill
Florida's recently appointed secretary of the Department of Children and Families, David Wilkins, has some big shoes to fill. He is replacing George Sheldon, who along with his predecessor, Bob Butterworth, made significant progress in reforming the state's foster care system.
Under the previous two secretaries, Florida greatly reduced the number of children in foster care and made us one of the nation's leaders in the number of adopted kids. Both Butterworth and Sheldon were guided by the direct voice of experience, the youth in state care.
I urge Secretary Wilkins to continue listening to youths, to keep up the momentum in reforming foster care and to pay special attention to the well-being of kids while they're waiting for a permanent home. The Legislature will have the opportunity to give children in state care a chance at living more normal lives both while in care and as young adults making their way in the world.
The new secretary's leadership on such issues will be vital.
Christina Spudeas, executive director, Florida's Children First, Coral Springs
Justify rail with facts
When are people going to get beyond the hype and realize that you cannot justify a high-speed rail project based on the number of construction jobs it will create? Or justify it, as one of the project's proponents said in a Times article, by saying, "If we don't take the money, someone else will get it."
The project must be economically justified based on accurate projections of construction and maintenance costs as well as ridership and revenue. Anything short of complete, unbiased economic analysis could leave Florida taxpayers holding the bag for a "white elephant" of gigantic proportions.
Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde
Ferreting out foreclosure fraudsters | Jan. 17, editorial
Mortgage reforms needed
This Times editorial examines the investigation by Attorney General Pam Bondi into "foreclosure fraudsters." The enabling entity underlying all these practices is the little-known Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, commonly called MERS. The majority of the nation's home mortgages include language that "assigns" the mortgage to MERS. This allows the mortgages to be bundled into securities for investors that are bought and sold on the open market.
Two problems with MERS-related mortgages: First, county transfer fees are avoided each time the mortgage changes hands; and second, when these mortgages fall into foreclosure, the paper trail becomes a nightmare.
The federal government is so concerned with the effects of MERS on the economy that a bill has been introduced, HR 6460, that would "prohibit Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae from owning or guaranteeing any mortgage that is assigned to the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems or for which MERS is the mortgagee of record."
Given the pervasiveness of the MERS, and negative impact caused, it is incumbent upon local governments to ensure that they are not further contributing to this mess. An audit needs to be made of any department, board or authority that touches upon any mortgage.
Fred Jacobsen, Apollo Beach
Order may stop next 'Taj Mahal' | Jan. 18
Until next time
At least Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady had enough common sense to say judges shouldn't be allowed to misuse the public trust the next time a courthouse is built. Wonderful.
But, of course, the egomaniacs still get to enjoy their luxurious surroundings. The responsible decision would be to expose the culprits and impeach them. Fat chance.
G. Koenig, Palm Harbor