Revised Senate health bill is still bad for Florida | July 18, editorial
Make this bipartisan idea work
The reason the Republicans can't draft a feasible health care bill is because they are fighting their own philosophy and their party's history.
The basis of the Affordable Care Act is the individual mandate. It requires that everyone carry coverage so that the pool of insured people varies by age, gender and health history.
It thus assures that risk is distributed over as broad a population as possible. This concept was first expressed in writing in 1989 by Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. It was and is a conservative concept based upon the idea of individual responsibility. The individual mandate was again espoused by Milton Friedman in 1991 and was one of the principles of a bill, the Heart Act, pushed by Republican Sen. John Chafee in 1993.
It was first "bench tested" by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, in Massachusetts in 2006. Only then, after it worked at state level, was it applied nationwide by President Barack Obama.
So, we need Republican senators with some courage who remember history to reach across the aisle and say: "You took our idea and ran with it, but you need our help to make it work properly and for everybody."
Paul F. Robinson, Tarpon Springs
Under fire, zoo ships tigers | July 18
Cruelty to animals
I was appalled to read the article on the front page of the Times about the 19 tigers being shipped to Oklahoma. How cruel to put these poor animals in a cattle truck in this heat for a long drive to a facility that is no better than where they were living in Pasco County.
I hope the owner is prosecuted to the full extent of the law for ignoring the injunction to not move the tigers; more importantly, her facility should be shut down. Please follow up on this story.
Linda Walker, San Antonio
Put focus on affordable housing | July 18, letter
Instill pride of ownership
This letter spoke to the nearly 2,000 homeless families in Pinellas County. It called for a set aside of 4 percent for affordable housing to cure the problem. What that will guarantee is a self-perpetuating program of government dependency.
For the last eight years, the Housing and Urban Development Department budget was more than $50 billion — meaning each state could have received $1 billion per year. That amount could build 10,000 homes at $100,000 each, so that beginning in 2008 80,000 families could have been specifically qualified to "purchase" their own home.
With a 3 percent loan guarantee, their "ownership" payment for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage would be $690.58 and for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, $421.60. The loan payment could fund and thus perpetuate a continuing housing initiative within local communities and thus relieve the burden to both federal and local taxpayers.
This program would give formerly homeless families a vested interest in their own futures and furthermore cure most of America's inner city homelessness. Homelessness occurs predominately in the nation's Community Redevelopment Areas, defined as America's "poor zones." This initiative will give families the pride of home ownership that has slipped from the grasp of so many Americans.
Chris Koury, Zephyrhills
People's wishes ignored
Reading the Tampa Bay Times each day, I see everything near and dear to me under attack: public schools, public health, public transportation, affordable health care and housing, environmental and consumer protection, science-based policies, criminal justice and human rights, good jobs and fair taxes, the free press, the social safety net, diplomacy and world peace. Instead, our tax money is going to Wall Street, banks, corporations, private prisons and schools, the military and militarized police forces, and the lobbyists for them.
Taxation without representation reigns both in Florida and nationally as legislators ignore what ordinary people want and need. We the people have been betrayed and nothing less than a new American revolution is needed to rid us of the stranglehold the rich and those who do their bidding have on our democracy.
Eileen Senn, Clearwater
The future of the Howard Frankland | July 18
Recipe for aggravation
I can't believe the plan is to have two toll lanes, one in each direction, with a concrete barrier separating them from each other and regular traffic. What if a car is stalled, or has an accident, or decides to go the speed limit or less? How do you get out of that lane that cost you all that money? Sounds crazy to me. Give me the free four lanes. Didn't anybody think of that?
Valerie Marchesini, Tampa
Universal coverage is next
Now that most liberals and centrists and many conservatives believe that health care is a right of U.S. citizenship, universal health care seems inevitable.
When our conservative members of Congress quit rewarding their campaign contributors with programs designed to assure they remain our most fortunate, eliminate income caps on Medicare and Social Security taxes and reinstate significant corporate and inheritance taxes on the transfer of wealth between generations, this great nation can balance its budget, eliminate its deficit and find comfort in universal health care for its citizens.
Mark Shelton, Tampa
Three brave senators
The three senators who bravely and defiantly spoke out against an unrepentant bully were women. Their compassionate decision not to "repeal only" makes me wonder: Rather than fill Senate seats 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, shouldn't we be reasonable and populate it with 50 women and 50 men?
Scott S. Moore, Safety Harbor