Release sparks GOP backlash | June 3
Put politics aside, please
The June 5 front page of the Times referred to an article inside the section with the headline, "U.S. soldier's release sparks GOP backlash." However, the story on the inside had nothing to do with the GOP.
I am a parent of one son who became a U.S. Marine in January, and a second son who leaves next Monday for U.S. Marine Corps boot camp. It is disingenuous for your newspaper to claim that the issue of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's disappearance is a left or right issue.
Since my sons have chosen to serve their country, this story means a great deal to me and I am offended that some media outlets wish to make it political.
The idea that Bergdahl walked away from his duties and that possibly several soldiers were killed looking for him is of great concern.
This issue is not Republican or Democrat or about searching for allegations to hold against the president. This is about the safety of our military and the respect that our country has for the men and women serving.
Nancy Harkins, Palm Harbor
A story of rescue | June 5
Gagging the whistle-blowers
Neither convicted national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning nor Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are your typical, scrape-the-barrel, brainwashed soldiers. This was evident when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel triumphantly announced to an audience at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan that Bergdahl had been released, and none of them offered any reaction.
Bergdahl told his parents that he had lost his faith in the Army and was ashamed to even be an American after what he had seen in Afghanistan. He walked out of his base one night, significantly without his weapon, and was captured by the Taliban.
Manning was given access to videos showing atrocities being committed by our troops in Iraq and naively thought that Americans should be informed, and for her trouble is doing 32 years at Fort Leavenworth.
Bergdahl also has a story to tell, about what he saw happen in Afghanistan, but will he be allowed to tell it? Not if President Obama, Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and all the chicken-hawks in Congress have anything to say about it.
R.G. Wheeler, Lealman
Public assistance for Walmart workers May 25
Tax credit is a better way
The earned income tax credit provides a tool for increasing the purchasing power of consumers. The EITC and a lesser-known House bill, the Financial Security Credit Act, are both advantageous for low-income families. The FSC creates an incentive for the low-income workers to begin saving directly on their tax form. The taxpayer would check a box on the return agreeing to a direct deposit of all or part of their tax refund into a qualifying savings account (IRAs, 529 college savings plans, etc., for a minimum 12-month term). This includes traditional savings accounts. The filer would be able to open a bank account on the form. If the taxpayer maintains the initial balance for at least eight months, he would receive a matched deposit of 50 cents per dollar saved, up to $500 per year. A pilot program called SaveUSA has shown this type of incentivized savings program for low-income taxpayers can work.
The EITC and the Child Tax Credit, or CTC, also provide significant income support to families who work in low-wage jobs.
Unfortunately, members of Congress did not make permanent the 2009 improvements of the EITC and CTC. The deficit is the obstacle cited to funding poverty programs. Ironically, the House recently approved permanent tax cuts or subsidies to corporations and financial institutions without offsetting the $301 billion cost of the tax package over the next 10 years. What do we value as a country?
Barbara Drake, Tampa
VA measure stalls | June 5
It's not a new problem
Issues with Veterans Affairs and the proper care of vets have been simmering for years, but nobody did any real investigation into the complaints from vets.
I remember working with vets in 2003-04 and talking about how long it took them to get an appointment to even see a doctor. They complained that when you got there it took hours for your turn, and then if some other treatment was necessary, that it took even more time, etc. Many used the health insurance provided by their jobs rather than wait on the VA.
Senate Republicans voted against a bill in February that would have started to relieve some of the problems by adding new clinics and more doctors. Now these politicians act as though they were always so concerned.
Actually, what they were willing to do was to allocate trillions to go to war in Syria or provoke a war with Iran. But new medical facilities and job-training programs for veterans who would fight these wars was just too expensive.
Senators who did not support the February bill included Marco Rubio, who is now riding on the back of the VA scandal to raise money and get votes for 2016 by presenting himself as so concerned. If this mess had not finally been made public after decades of mismanagement, Rubio would still be unconcerned about the vets and still pandering to the NRA for money and votes.
Both parties are to blame for not paying attention to past complaints. So is the Pentagon and ranking officers in all branches of the military. I am sure that officers, who receive the Cadillac of health care plans, were quite aware of the lack of care being given to most of our vets.
All of these people should stop trying to use this scandalous handling of our injured warriors for making political hay and all get on the same page to demand and get immediate change.
Patricia Houghtalen, New Port Richey