Ability to work with Congress key
Throughout the presidential campaign and debates, we have heard from each candidate about the economy, unemployment, taxes, the deficit, foreign policy and, of course, how ineffective the other guy is. Yet most of us are missing the most important point.
While the president has wide power in foreign policy through diplomacy and the use of the military, on domestic policy he has surprisingly little direct effect on the major issues of the day. Whoever the next president is cannot wave his hand and lower gas prices, lower the deficit, change tax rates or pay teachers more.
It is Congress, and not the president, who can directly and effectively act. Regardless of how the congressional races turn out, the key decision point for all of us should be how the new president will be able to work with Congress and pull together a coalition from both sides of the aisle.
To Bill Clinton's credit, when congressional winds changed in his midterm elections, he was able to forge working solutions that passed as welfare reform and enacted Republican congressional budgets that produced surpluses he now gets credit for. President Barack Obama snubbed the Republicans when he didn't need them to pass Obamacare, but once he got "shellacked" in his midterms, he did not pivot to a more conciliatory position. Instead he simply blamed Congress for, well, everything.
Do we know that Mitt Romney can do better? No. But at least there is a history of him being able to pull together disparate groups of people together, either in big business, the Olympics or as governor of a Democratic state legislature. Everyone can make their own judgment about the candidates, but if you want the country to move "forward" on entitlement reform or taxes, etc., evaluate Obama and Romney not so much on their own ideas but on their ability to effectively work with Congress.
Gordon Stevenson, Tampa
The truth about those Medicare 'cuts' Oct. 21
Clearing up confusion
I commend Bob Graham for this article, which clearly explains the subject. I am hopeful it will clear up a lot of confusion generated by one of the political parties. Believe me, I "stayed to the end." I volunteer to try to answer the many medical questions that exist and this article is a great help.
Joan Hedlund, San Antonio
Reassurance on Medicare
My heartfelt thanks are extended to the Tampa Bay Times and former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham for the easy-to-understand overview about the $716 billion in savings to Medicare. I was already convinced, but this just makes me feel even more comfortable with the situation.
Susan Cobb, Clearwater
Meningitis-linked firm flouted rules Oct. 24
Regulations have a purpose
Rules and regulations promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration are in place to ensure that the medicines available to citizens are tested for safety. When an industry evades the regulations, we are all at risk. Regulations are for our benefit, not, as some would have it, just government meddling.
Mortimer Brown, Lutz
Grade system puzzles many | Oct. 22
Heartache and pain
Last week when we received our final evaluation scores, no one could not predict the carnage we were about to witness. I have only been teaching for seven years, but I have not seen as much heartache and pain amongst teachers as I have over the last week.
Teachers who are among the top in their areas are being labeled "effective," "developing" and even "unsatisfactory." Personally I went from being a highly effective teacher to a barely effective teacher with no real evidence to support that decision.
Not only does this affect the teachers negatively, but also the students and the culture that we create in our classrooms. When teacher morale is beat down, like it has been recently, teachers begin to feel hopeless. The only way to make change is to have teachers and the public rise up against this evaluation system.
Angela Clifford, Largo
Citizens' watchdogs out | Oct. 17
Public needs to know
As the Times reported, Barry Gilway, president of Citizens, a government-run insurer created by the state Legislature, recently terminated every employee within his Office of Corporate Integrity. These firings came on the heels of reports of lavish, non-mission critical spending. Abusing travel expenditures is unacceptable, but gutting the watchdog inside of the so-called people's insurer of last resort is incomprehensible.
We recently sent a joint letter to Gov. Rick Scott asking him to expand the focus of his ongoing chief inspector general's investigation into Citizens to include a review of the disbandment of the integrity office. State Sen. Mike Fasano echoed our call. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater also supports finding out why the four internal government watchdogs at Citizens were terminated.
Gilway responded that he welcomed an investigation by the governor. We applaud him and Citizens for their openness to a third-party review, which we believe should be conducted immediately.
We can only scrutinize and protect policyholders and taxpayers with publicly available information. We rely on internal watchdogs, inspectors, investigators, auditors, and a transparent process to prevent corrupt use of public money and to safeguard the integrity of the public sector.
Taxpayers and policyholders deserve accountability.
Dan Krassner, executive director, Integrity Florida; Sean Shaw, founder, Policyholders of Florida
In the 1980s President Ronald Reagan promised to cut taxes and increase defense spending. He tripled the national debt. In the 2000s President George W. Bush cut taxes and increased defense spending. He doubled the national debt.
Now Mitt Romney promises to cut taxes and increase defense spending. One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach