Food stamp use, subsidized housing rose on GOP watch | April 12, PolitiFact
Food stamp spending explodes
PolitiFact said the number of people on food stamps grew by 52 percent during the first seven years of President George W. Bush — which is fair game since the Republicans have touted themselves as the political party to trust for responsible control of the nation's purse strings. But PolitiFact failed to mention the degree of growth under President Barack Obama, which puts its story completely out of context.
For instance, the percentage of the U.S. population using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, rose again in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 even though the unemployment rate has fallen for three consecutive calendar years. That's historically unprecedented. Obama's spending on SNAP also has doubled in just five fiscal years, making his spending in actual dollars far more than when Bush doubled spending in eight years by starting from a smaller number.
Yes, both parties are responsible for the dramatic increase in SNAP, though an argument can be made that spending and program eligibility have accelerated much more quickly under Obama. In 2000, about 17 million people were on food stamps at a cost under $18 billion, according to the Cato Institute, using data from the U.S. Agriculture Department and other sources. Now, about 48 million Americans use the SNAP program at a cost of about $78 billion — easily tripling spending from more than a decade ago.
It's wrong for the Times to use PolitiFact information that does not include proper context. Without that, readers have nothing to use in comparison to make valid judgments about whether American taxpayers can afford such rapid increases in spending or if it's even proper for our country to have one of every six of its citizens dependent on this welfare program.
Mike Kersmarki, Tampa
Ukraine? Send in the troops as soon as we find it | April 13
High cost of faraway wars
Thanks to the researchers for examining how many people can identify where Ukraine is. The fact that only one in six can identify the country's location is telling.
It may explain why the United States invaded Iraq — oh, it's not near Mexico?
It probably does explain why Americans tolerated the Vietnam War for 20 years — that little thing, way over there?
America's shoot first, ask questions later philosophy drives warmongers to demand violence with little knowledge of the impact or consequences, and the nation is left to mourn the loss of its sons and daughters in faraway places.
Larry Bush, Lutz
Perils of high-profit trauma care | April 13
Legislature is the obstacle
Kudos to Connie Potter for her column on Florida trauma centers. However, I laughed out loud when I read, "Floridians need to understand the consequences of such high-profit trauma care — and put an end to it." If she means the citizens, i.e., the voters of Florida, I would respectfully ask her: Since when do the voters of Florida have a say in anything this state does? The voters are about the last ones taken into consideration. The Florida Legislature has made that painfully clear. Rest assured, I will continue to vote every opportunity I have, and I hope more Floridians will do the same.
Cindy Clark, Tampa
Aaron: Ruth chase racism still exists April 10
Let go of past wrongs
Hank Aaron, honored last week by the Atlanta Braves on the anniversary of his 715th home run, said that he still has bigoted letters and threats that he received while pursuing Babe Ruth's record. Aaron said he keeps them so that he won't forget that racism still exists. "The biggest difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts," said Aaron.
Every time I think we're making progress in race relations, something comes up to prove me wrong. This time I get a clearer understanding of why that is. Aaron's attic full of racist letters is a perfect example of why we are having a tough time getting beyond the mistakes of the past. I grew up a baseball fan, and Hank Aaron was a hero of mine. Living in the Atlanta area, I was aware of the high esteem in which many people of all races held him.
It's too bad that Aaron has these terrible memories and this collection of pathetic, racist letters. Racism still exists in Aaron's mind because he won't let go of it. He would do better to look around at the many accomplishments of African-Americans in all areas of American society.
Margaret Broderick, Tampa
Flood battle not at its end | April 10
Older homes out of luck
Ignored in this article, and nearly so by Congress, are the thousands of us homeowners in houses built before the mid 1970s. Permanent residents of homes too old to be "grandfathered" are left facing up to 18 percent annual increases until we reach ridiculous and unaffordable rates.
Built in 1970, my modest two-bedroom ranch in Dunedin faces "actuarial" rates of $9,009 a year. The only homes in our subdivision to receive real relief are a few McMansions that have replaced older homes.
Residents in older homes are left with the options of losing them as rates double in four years, triple in seven, etc.; or paying off mortgages and dropping insurance. Neither option is reasonable, and who will want to buy our properties facing the same options?
Ken Lynam, Dunedin