Presidents must retain this option | Feb. 18, editorial
Senate decides when it's in recess
Your editorial is misleading and historically hypocritical. Presidents do have the authority to make recess appointments when the Senate is in recess. In the case of the National Labor Relations Board, the Senate was not in recess and the president does not get to determine when it is in recess.
The Constitution clearly gives only Congress the authority to declare a recess. It is ironic that Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., initiated the procedure of a "pro forma" session to prevent President George W. Bush from making recess appointments after Bush made a recess appointment of U.N. Ambassador John Bolton while Congress was in a congressionally declared recess.
Ronald Hall, Lutz
GOP stalls Hagel vote | Feb. 15
Pentagon not 'leaderless'
Will the Democrats' rhetoric of blaming everything on the Republicans ever stop? In the same article regarding the stalled vote on Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense, deputy White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Leon Panetta will stay on the job until a new defense secretary is confirmed.
Later in the same article, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, is quoted as saying: "Leaving the Department of Defense leaderless at a time when we are in an Afghan conflict, when North Korea just exploded a nuclear device, is exceptionally ill-advised."
Which is it? Is Leon Panetta staying in his leadership role until replaced, or is he leaving the Defense Department without a leader? Don't the Democratic Party leaders talk to the White House? How can the chairman of the Armed Services Committee not know the plans of Panetta? Or is this just another "cry wolf" by the Democrats to shed negative light on the Republican Party?
Jim Rechtin, Tampa
School 'Wall of Shame' abandoned | Feb. 16
Parental guidance needed
I went to college later in life, around age 30. I could not believe the lack of knowledge among a large portion of the kids coming fresh from high school. And I'm not referring to anything very complex. Many could not do the simplest math equations or construct a proper sentence.
You cannot place the blame on teachers. The students themselves and their uncaring parents are to blame. Maybe if parents would do their part of the job of educating their children things would improve. But from what I've seen, that won't be happening soon.
Fred Kann, St. Petersburg
The "Wall of Shame" at Jefferson High School seems to reflect more negatively on the teaching profession than on the students whose comments were posted. How can a person reach the high school level without enough basic knowledge to understand the material in the posted comments?
The real shame is with the teachers of these students, both past and present. They have failed these individuals.
Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde
Expanding opportunity | Feb. 15, commentary
Sen. Marco Rubio's pitch for private schools appears in the Tampa Bay Times on the very day that the main editorial condemns the Lighthouse of Northwest Florida, a private school, and its counterparts for unspeakable horrors. In the same vein, three letters to the editor on that day remind us that private providers of tutoring in public schools are guilty of poor performance and corruption.
Rubio's excellent experience as a public school student testifies to the ability of public schools to do a good job. Deterioration since his school days can be attributed to reduced funding for public schools and to intrusion by politicians into school matters that require the judgment of educational professionals.
The senator would enable wealthy individuals and corporations to dictate privatization by diverting to private schools the very tax revenues that could help restore public schools to the quality of his youth. The history of privatization of schools and other governmental activities confirms that it is most undesirable.
Seymour S. Bluestone, Clearwater
It was good enough for him
Sen. Marco Rubio's education plan takes tax money that could be used to strengthen public schools and transfers it to private schools in a manner that is so obfuscated that very few will understand it. It's a shame he is not directing his considerable energy and skill towards ensuring that all children get the quality public education he acknowledges that he got.
Edwin J. Bradley, Valrico
Lift veil on cost for care | Feb. 14, editorial
Medical system failures
A recent survey showed the total estimated costs of a hip replacement of a healthy senior woman varied between $11,000 and $126,000. This is beyond incredible. It should be, but unfortunately is not, criminal. What it is, in fact, is almost irrefutable evidence supporting a single-payer medical system. For all the shortcomings of socialized medicine, and there are many, what we have going on in the United States is an abomination.
For several weeks, nearly a half-million people covered by UnitedHealthcare were caught between the BayCare system and United. Both sides pointed to the other as being unreasonable. But neither would discuss black and white figures about their negotiations. Why? Because they wanted to keep them secret from their respective competitors. Because health care is a business, a huge for-profit business system in which the average consumer, and businesses providing health insurance, are getting ground up.
One of the requirements of the Affordable Care Act is that a health insurance company shall pay out at least 80 percent of premiums in benefits. Because our health care system is based on a profit motive, there were health insurance companies paying out 70 percent of the premiums they charged, leaving 30 percent for administration and shareholder profits. Compare this to Medicare, with all of its shortcomings and fraud, which costs only about 3 percent in administrative costs.
And let's not forget one other salient fact: Despite spending far more per capita on health care than any other country, the United States ranks below 14 to 19 other nations, depending on the study, in the quality of our health care.
Dorsett Bennett, Lutz