Budget slashes safety net | March 31, editorial
Running up U.S. debt won't help
In case the Times hadn't noticed, we're broke. President Barack Obama has added nearly $5 trillion in debt, more than the total for two terms of George W. Bush. We now have structural deficits of $1 trillion as far as the eye can see.
Obama's own budget failed to garner a single vote. He spent months selling the "Buffett rule" only to have the Congressional Budget Office say that it might raise $30 billion over 10 years — not even a drop in the bucket. Meanwhile, Obamacare cost projections have doubled to $1.8 trillion over 10 years.
Even if we eliminated defense, we would still have a historically high deficit. You can't tax the productive enough to cover this spending tsunami. When over half of the citizens have their hands in their neighbor's pocket, it is clear that the federal government has grossly exceeded its clearly enumerated powers.
Government austerity and economic growth are the solution, and this administration is hostile to both.
Raymond A. Baker, St. Petersburg
City can't give up on new police HQ April 2, editorial
Explore all options
It is unfortunate that St. Petersburg leaders have seemingly given up on building a new police headquarters. Maybe the plans can be scaled back to reflect the tougher times. However, all avenues of raising the needed monies should be explored. Form a task force of city and community leaders to explore all options.
The entire community hurts when a police officer is killed in the line of duty. But why do so many ignore the facility in which we expect them to operate? I have never seen the inside of the headquarters, but the outside and parking certainly does not portray an operation of efficiency or safety. We need to honor their commitments while they are alive and performing the duties that we expect.
Jim Rimmer, St. Petersburg
Bonds paid for past projects
Mayor Bill Foster and the St. Petersburg City Council indeed should not give up on finding a way to build a new police headquarters, and procrastinating until there is a better economic environment seems ill-advised.
No mention has been made of the possibility of financing through municipal bonds. My father was a securities dealer in the 1940s and '50s, working exclusively with cities and counties in west-central Florida that were faced with similar financial challenges. I remember some large undertakings were accomplished in times that were far from flush.
Investors were comfortable with the certainty that they would gain a reasonable return in the future and simultaneously assist in achieving a worthy civic endeavor. Are such strategies no longer viable? Many of us believe St. Petersburg's future is brighter than ever and would step up to help meet this need.
Tom Pierce, St. Petersburg
Politics of race warp Martin case | April 2
Reasoned dialogue missing
I couldn't agree more with this article. Although race may have influenced the actions of George Zimmerman, race must not overshadow the more significant issue at hand: unchecked power in the form of a deadly weapon and a law that needs re-evaluating.
However, the more we see Al Sharpton riling people up and yelling for "justice" — even if rightly so — the further we move from a more focused dialogue on "stand your ground" laws, race relations and the assignment and use of authority, to an old-fashioned "tent revival," complete with fiery histrionics from an African-American Elmer Gantry.
And every time an NRA member foments about his "God-given right" to bear arms and protect himself from an impending "Armageddon," it makes anyone seem guilty of sedition if they dare suggest even slightly changing "stand your ground."
At the end of the day, what we really need isn't to wear a "hoodie," nor to display NRA cards or concealed weapons permits. We need to sit down, look each other in the eye, and talk civilly about gun laws, about race, and about the sanctity of all life.
Ronald Thuemler, Tampa
Focus on flawed law
In my view, the Trayvon Martin case is not a racial issue and never was. This issue is entirely about the very flawed "stand your ground" Florida law.
A similar incident occurred in Valrico in 2010. An unarmed white father was at a park with his 8-year-old daughter when another child began skateboarding. An armed black man came over and demanded that it be stopped. A scuffle ensued, with the white dad being shot to death.
The black man invoked the "stand your ground" law, claiming self-defense. The judge in that case is still trying to decide whether a jury trial is warranted. But I would like to know where Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton were when this equally tragic incident occurred. No marching, no loudspeakers, no insistence for "justice" for the man killed. The silence of these two hypocrites is deafening.
Frank Soos, St. Pete Beach
Don't cut access to care
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.5 million people in the United States, and many rely on Medicaid and Medicare to cover their medical costs. Although lupus can be debilitating, most patients, including myself, manage their disease and are active in society.
Unfortunately, one of the growing trends in health care policy is cutting costs by creating boards motivated to make sweeping changes in public health insurance programs. By cutting costs, they cut access to medical care and reduce the options of physicians and patients.
The latest example is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of appointees chosen to reduce Medicare spending. I understand the need to control costs, but IPAB will pass along the cost to patients, hindering their access to care.
States are slashing reimbursement rates for Medicaid. A recent University of Pennsylvania study showed that 66 percent of children on Medicaid could not schedule doctor appointments.
Programs like Medicaid and Medicare need cost-control reforms. I challenge lawmakers to find solutions for providing better preventive care, adequately managing chronic diseases and reducing demands on public programs serving patients. Cutting costs by cutting patient access to care is not the solution.
Sandi Frear, Seminole
Mandates and the military
We are all made to pay income taxes, which support the U.S. military. If that isn't the biggest health care organization in the country, what is? It sure helps keep me alive and well.
John G. Bassett, St. Petersburg