Special deficit committee expects failure | Nov. 21
Compromise isn't a dirty word
Compromise has 10 letters — unless you work on Capitol Hill, where it is apparently a four-letter word. At least that seems to be the persistent message conveyed by the U.S. Congress, most recently in the predictably stymied supercommittee.
I can understand, and even support, the inclination to vigorously defend the policies and philosophies of one's party affiliation. But when did it become standard practice for a politician to refuse to make even the smallest of concessions, and then proudly proclaim victory for having maintained his position? It's as if our current lawmakers consider themselves in battle, and compromise has become synonymous with surrender.
Unfortunately, when reason is abandoned and dogmatic ideology is championed, a basic tenet of conflict resolution is forfeited.
It seems that there is no olive branch long enough to bridge the valley of disagreement that divides our government.
Wendy Belfield, Tampa
What a surprise. Did anyone really think six Democrats and six Republicans would be able to work together? With equal voting, there was no way this was going to work.
Why wasn't it a seven-person committee with one independent? This would have allowed for a tiebreaker and these "politicians" might have had to work together. This was nothing more than a dog and pony show for the American people.
The American people are suffering not because we spend too much or that we have too little revenue. We are suffering because we don't have any statesmen in Congress. Politicians we have, but true statesmen are in short supply.
Randy Eisenberg, Valrico
Occupiers must build agenda | Nov. 19, editorial
Campaign reform essential
Your editorial calling for the Occupy movement to "build an agenda" and engage in electoral politics misses the point. On the other hand, the accompanying editorial cartoon gets it exactly right. It shows hundreds of ordinary Americans on their feet with a sign saying "End corporate bribery of our elected officials and return our democracy back to the people!" Meanwhile, a fat "suit" walks by with a briefcase, saying, "That's nice, but what do you stand for?"
Until we get sweeping campaign reform that breaks the stranglehold of corporate money on our electoral politics, the U.S. political system will continue to serve corporate America, not the American people. With the political and economic system rigged against us, the most effective way for the 99 percent to act is on our feet in the streets. That is how real political change was won by the people of Eastern Europe and North Africa, and it may be the only way we will get meaningful reform in the United States.
The agenda of the Occupy movement is clear. Put the worst of the Wall Street fraudsters in jail. Stop supporting the rich bankers who created our economic problems and start supporting the people losing their homes and jobs, the students crushed by debt and the sick who can't afford the price of health care.
Andrew Rock, Tampa
Civic power sapped
Forget about occupying Wall Street and the U.S. Congress. Occupy Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the shadow organization behind the tea party. And occupy the corporations led by the Koch brothers who finance both Americans for Tax Reform and the tea party.
Norquist's antitax pledge signed by most Republicans in both state legislatures and the U.S. Congress has undermined the civic power of ordinary citizens while crippling our economy. Republicans who don't sign the pledge face primary opponents and are voted out by heavily financed ultraconservatives who are willing to put ideology and the interests of big corporations before the welfare of ordinary Americans. No wonder we have gridlock.
Norquist, who has never been elected to public office, seems to be more powerful than House Speaker John Boehner. That is wrong on so many levels.
Judith A. Terwilliger, St. Petersburg
Student debt might be the next big financial crisis | Nov. 18, commentary
USF professor Edward Renner makes some valid points. However, he didn't cover the borrowers who are already in a financial crisis as a result of "private college" scams. These are the companies that promise to teach a career but then fail to do so. They also break other promises, such as career placement and earning potential. Their only qualification for admission is the ability of an applicant to get a student loan. Their sole objective is to make money, not to educate.
Once the loan is made, students are obligated to repay it, even if the "college" goes out of business. No discharge in bankruptcy is allowed. Any unpaid loan remains on the borrower's credit report for the rest of his or her life with interest being capitalized and increasing the amount of the debt. It doesn't even go away when you die, as your estate remains liable.
The college/companies don't care. They get their money up front. The lenders don't care. They get their money under guarantees by the government. That's why they don't care about the creditworthiness of the borrower or the circumstances of the loan. The taxpayers end up eating the losses. It's legalized larceny.
The whole student loan situation is in dire need of review and overhaul.
Joe Crites, Clearwater
Prudent path to plant fix | Nov. 20, commentary
Smoke and mirrors
While reading Vincent M. Dolan's article, I felt like I was watching Dorothy being told not to pay any attention to the man behind the curtain because the great and powerful Oz knows all that needs to be known. Little people don't need to worry their pretty little heads; the experts have it all under control.
The fact is Dolan and the rest of the crew at Progress are nothing more than a bunch of smoke-and-mirror "wizards" just like the rest of Wall Street wonders who drove our economy over a cliff two years ago.
If this ridiculous construction plan had actually worked, they would have patted themselves on the back and given themselves a big bonus for being so smart.
Jeremiah Rohr, St. Petersburg