I am writing in response to a column that appeared in these pages attacking Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney for their efforts to save Medicare. Lost somewhere in the hyperbole and humor is the recognition that our nation is at a crossroads and the stakes of a presidential election have perhaps never been higher. Voters deserve an intellectually honest debate before casting their ballots in November, and it would be refreshing to see our local paper facilitate that kind of a dialogue rather than penning the same tired and misleading attacks we hear when the issue comes up.
The fundamental truth about Medicare in America is that doing nothing will bankrupt the program, and seniors who currently depend on the program will face cuts. Put another way, leaving Medicare alone is not possible. The choice not to reform the program is in fact a decision to allow the eventual death of the program. President Barack Obama has no plan to save Medicare.
Romney and Ryan have a plan to save Medicare. For those 55 and older, there will be no changes to Medicare. For the next generation, implementing common sense reforms will encourage choice and reduce costs while keeping the promise of Medicare for this and future generations.
Voters wanting to know whether Romney and Ryan are willing to propose bold solutions need to look no further than the Medicare debate. Fact is, they have the courage to have an honest conversation with voters in this country and will not let politics and propaganda get in the way of policies that will preserve the safety nets in our society while getting spending and the national debt under control.
Florida Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa
Republican National Convention
I'd like to welcome the Republicans to our fair city and let them know that we stand ready to make their visit safe and enjoyable.
Whether they travel here by car, plane, boat or foot, the DOT, TSA, NSA, NHTSA, FAA and others are working for them. NOAA, the NWS and FEMA will keep them abreast of the weather. The FBI, CIA, State Department and DHS will protect them while they're here, as will the TPD, HCSO, our fire department, SWAT teams, National Guard, Coast Guard, FDLE and other law enforcement agencies. First responders in the medical field are poised to handle anything, should the need arise.
I hope they remember these things while they're here bashing "big government."
Madeline Orio, Tampa
Priorities out of order
Pinellas County is so broke there isn't enough money to cut the grass or pick up the trash on the county right of ways. However, they have just managed to find $600,000 to pay for a party for the Republican Party. It is always a matter of priorities. We just do not have our priorities in order.
Margaret Hyde, Clearwater
GOP platform: No exception for rape, incest Aug. 20
An affront to women
The Republican platform that includes no provision for abortion in the case of rape or incest is also an affront to human life — that of the mother. Especially in those cases, a woman should have the right to choose.
Rape is not sex — it is a violent crime against women, and no woman should have to suffer the horror of rape and then be told they have to bear the offspring of the man or men who raped her. This does not honor the sanctity of the life of the woman.
Cecilia Yocum, Tampa
Look at the president | Aug. 21, letter
Glad to contribute
This letter says President Barack Obama's support comes from "the selfish, self-centered and intolerant recipients of his leftist largesse who sing his praises."
The writer may resent having to help others in need, but not everyone thinks that way. I've paid lots of taxes over the years. The only government largesse I could be accused of taking was free advice from the Small Business Administration decades ago when I was building a company that eventually employed more than 30 people.
If part of my taxes help feed the hungry, care for helpless children or the aged, I'm glad to have contributed. There are millions like me who aren't "selfish, self-centered" or "intolerant recipients of leftist largesse" who are proud to support those programs and, frankly, are disappointed by those who get no satisfaction from helping and who rail angrily about government efforts to do so.
We are the government; is it wrong to help others?
Terry Dunham, St. Petersburg
Syrians see rising losses from war | Aug. 20
A dictator's prayers
One of the most appalling photos I've seen in the Times was the recent one showing Syrian President Bashar Assad in prayer. Was he praying for Allah to send him more bombs to destroy his people? What a disgusting human being.
Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg
Tampa Bay Rays
There is talk of the Rays moving to Tampa. If they do, we don't have to build them a new stadium. Attendance at two recent games would fit in Steinbrenner Field. All the fans would be closer to the action, and the TV cameras wouldn't be showing 24,000 empty seats.
But, alas, I don't think they'll be moving to Tampa. It's more likely to be Charlotte or Las Vegas.
Philip Valenti, Lutz
Jobless benefits elusive for many | Aug. 22
Kicked to the curb
This article literally brought me to tears. It explained how Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-majority Legislature have gone to great lengths to keep unemployed Floridians from collecting unemployment compensation that is due to them. The expression "Kick them when they are down" comes to mind.
Florida is finally first in something: Of all 50 states we now pay fewer unemployment claims than any other state adjusted for population. Thousand of Floridians who have never collected a dime in welfare, many of them veterans, are being kicked to the curb when they need help the most.
Peter Newton, Clearwater
Protect against overfishing
In 2007, Congress implemented science-based catch limits for public trust fishery resources, which was a good thing. So it's with concern that I hear the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee is holding a field hearing on fisheries in Panama City today.
There are those who haven't liked the hard work of rebuilding our fisheries to sustainability. And they frequently promote concepts that create loopholes catering to the "leave us alone" fishing businesses of old that put such a serious dent in our fisheries.
One House bill along these lines would allow any fishery that has not had a stock assessment within five years to be exempt from fishing limits. This would surely create an incentive to fight against funding for stock assessments. The predictable result? A return to overfishing.
Fishermen need a long-term model, as does tourism. That's why I'm proud to have TradeWinds Island Resorts hosting the Guy Harvey Fisheries Symposium in September, where fishery experts will discuss the science of overexploited and thus underutilized fisheries.
Over $1 billion and 500,000 jobs are lost because of overfishing. I hope the result of this field hearing is solving that problem, because sustainable fisheries are a good catch for tourism, Florida and the nation.
Keith Overton, president and chief operating officer, TradeWinds Island Resorts, St. Pete Beach
Keep it simple: Cast vote by mail Aug. 20, letter
No hasty decisions
I do as the letter writer does with my sample ballot: I read as much as I can and mark it in the comfort of my home. I continue to gather information right up to Election Day and then take my sample ballot to the polling place.
My reason for going to the polls on Election Day is that information on the character and positions of the candidates continues to emerge right up to that day. If I vote early enough to get my ballot mailed in time to be counted, I miss several days or more of important information about the candidates.
We need an informed electorate. The earlier the vote, the less information the voter has.
Rebecca L. Johnson, New Port Richey