U.S. AAA rating slips | Aug. 6
Hopes rest on budget committee
Our S&P downgrade apparently had more to do with our recent dysfunctional governance than our debt ratios. Yes, we need to seriously deal with our debt, and hats off to the tea party members for getting that part of it right; but how you say a thing can be more important than what is actually said.
It's akin to children in the back of the classroom resorting to poking each other's eyes to get the teacher's attention. Now look where this train wreck has gotten us. President Barack Obama's big mistake was to project his own rational thinking onto his adversaries. His expectation was to find them responsible. Big mistake. Let's hope in this new committee cooler heads will prevail.
We do need a balanced approach: debt reductions timed in such a way as to not stall the economy further, and revenue increases in the form of serious tax reform. History shows that this two-pronged approach has actually worked.
In the meantime, some immediate investment into infrastructure projects, extension of unemployment benefits, and some programs that encourage businesses to hire would complete my wish list.
We do need both political parties, as they each represent valid points of view for a healthy nation, but we also need for them to show mature and responsible behavior.
Tricia Schachtel, St. Petersburg
Learn English and leave | Aug. 3, letter
Australia welcomes students learning English
I would like to set the record straight in regard to this letter suggesting that international students who come to Australia to learn English are kept "on campus" for the duration of their course. This is incorrect.
The letter also states that on completion of their English courses, students are escorted to the airport before flying out of the country. This is also wrong.
For many years, Australia has welcomed international students from all over the world, who come to study a range of registered courses, including tertiary, vocational and English-language courses.
There are no restrictions on personal freedoms, and students and their dependents are also permitted limited work rights while in Australia.
The Australian international student program is a highly successful one by international standards, and hundreds of thousands of students from many countries have benefited from the high-quality education that is available here.
Sandi Logan, national communications manager, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Canberra, Australia
Nuclear plant's cost will be on us | Aug. 5
Propping up their profits
So we could be paying $50 to $70 extra every month on top of our already high energy bills so we can build a nuclear plant for a for-profit company?
How will the already struggling poor and retirees pay for this? In addition, Gov. Rick Scott wants to give businesses an incentive to move to Florida by giving them a break on their electric bills. His plan will push higher costs onto residential customers. This is nothing more than corporate welfare and something the tea party should get mad about, but won't.
It is time Floridians put the "public" back in the Public Service Commission and demanded its members oppose Progress Energy's nuclear plan that makes that company wealthier and breaks the rest of us.
Scott McKown, Palm Harbor
30 troops die in copter crash | Aug. 7
Not worth another U.S. life
There are not enough Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan to pay with their lives in retribution for Saturday's tragic loss of U.S. Navy SEALs who bravely died for a godforsaken, medieval country.
The straw has finally broken the camel's back. Let's pack up our camps and troops and equipment and welcome home our heroes who fought and died valiantly for a nation that couldn't care less about being free from the bondage of tyrants.
Ray Brown, Tampa
College costs rising
Back in April as the Florida Legislature was creating the state budget, the Times along with other news outlets reported the House and Senate had come to an agreement allowing for a 20 percent decrease in funding for Bright Futures.
The results of these cuts hit home last week. My daughter's school sent the financial aid award letter and I found out the per credit hour rate for the Florida Academic Scholars decreased from $125 to $101. This decrease, coupled with the 15 percent increase in tuition, means the Florida Academic Scholars' 100 percent tuition level covers only 60 percent.
I guess the lesson here is don't believe or count on the Florida state government to keep its promises.
Bob McCabe, Largo
Passing the blame
The spinner in chief has come down with ABO Syndrome. With this Anyone But Obama malady, the president blames the stock market and economic crisis on the Japanese tsunami, the Arab spring, the euro, weather in the United States and anything else that suits his fancy at the moment.
Let's put the blame squarely where it belongs. This American decline rests on policies of Obama, Harry Reid and Democrats in the Senate and Nancy Pelosi. And for good measure throw in Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and their involvement with mortgage debacle.
Patricia Jennings, Dunedin
Many of us who voted for Barack Obama have been disappointed by the inability of his administration to effect the changes we expected him to make in Washington. Yes, he has been able to make some very important changes, but his failure to eliminate the Bush tax cuts and to bring about the "big" reduction in the deficit were disappointing.
In his defense, his determination to make Washington a town that was not separated into "reds" and "blues" was sabotaged when one side became known as "the party of no." When Sen. Mitch Mc-Connell said that his No. 1 goal was to make President Obama a one-term president, we were given proof that jobs were not the No. 1 goal of the Republican Party.
Thom Cooper, St. Petersburg