Senate health care vote
Special interests called the tune
The American public has just witnessed the power of special interest influence on a legislative process originally designed by our Constitution to represent the people of the United States, who now have very little representation if any.
Although 60 votes were obtained — 58 Democrats, two independents and, surprise, no Republicans — by Harry Reid, he did not get them without compromise, or should I say without a payoff. It is plain and simple he had to buy votes in the name of compromise just to get a bill, good or bad.
Health care reform was initiated to reform the system for two reasons, first to provide health care for all Americans and second to provide that health care at a reasonable cost.
The Senate bill does neither and has solidified the insurance industry's stranglehold on the American consumer for years to come. The entire bill designed by the health care industry guarantees the industry 30 million more premium payers to fill their coffers and increase profits; those with pre-existing conditions will be required to pay higher premiums and the elderly will also pay higher premiums. Even if a family of four makes 400 percent of the poverty level ($88,000 per year), their premium will be subsidized by our tax dollars.
The bottom line: Our representatives have just given the insurance industry everything but the kitchen sink. My recommendation is to buy health insurance stocks, which just hit a 50-year high, and pray you don't get sick.
Vito J. Delgorio Sr., Spring Hill
Votes for sale
What do Democratic senators Ben Nelson from Nebraska, Mary Landrieu from Louisiana, and independent Bernie Sanders from Vermont have in common? Their votes were bought by Democratic Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus from Montana with millions of dollars in health care considerations for their states.
This is the most important piece of legislation regarding the nation's health in its history and it took on the form of a bribe to bring it to fruition. This is the sad state of our political system, where the wishes of a majority of the citizenry and an entire opposing political party were ignored in order to satisfy an administration determined to pass any legislation that will give credence to its viability.
The country has become so polarized over this issue that people will either absent themselves from the political process or they will become activists in the establishment of a third party.
Earl A. Myers Jr., Tampa
A cause without honor | Dec. 16, letter
Don't forget what the U.S. flag once stood for
I am not inclined to rush out and get a Confederate flag license plate, but I did get a kick out of the letter writer who piously wrote that he does not "feel that anyone has the right to 'honor' a flag that stood for the degradation of a race of people."
Really? If he feels that way about a country (flag) that did that, he must really be disgusted with a country that degraded two races of people.
Let's review: Wounded Knee, the forced migration of the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears, the "resettlement" of many Western tribes on reservations against their will, and so on. Sound familiar? I think it's accurate to say that America has treated the American Indians pretty shabbily over time.
Further, let's not gloss over the fact that Old Glory, in some form, flew over a country where slavery was legal for almost 100 years. A second race of people degraded.
So, I surmise that it must be very uncomfortable for the writer to live in the United States, for surely he could not bear to "honor" a flag that represents a country that did so many so wrong!
I choose to recognize that society's mores often change over time and that what once was legal or acceptable centuries ago may not be acceptable or legal today. This country is so diverse. We have a myriad of religions, traditions, heroes and beliefs that are bound to differ from one state or region to another. I am not inclined to buy a Confederate license plate myself, but it does bother me that there are some who try to stifle the beliefs or traditions of others.
Tom Waldbart, Wesley Chapel
Sour economy puts a burden on bands Dec. 18
Fundraising isn't learning
This article emphasizes how our children are used to fund their public school education. It begins in kindergarten when they are sent home with fundraiser packets and continues through high school when they must participate in raising funds in order to participate in programs such as drama, band, and academic and sports teams.
Journalism students are required to sell ads as part of their grade to fund the exorbitant costs of producing a quality school yearbook and newspaper. Low ad sales restrict their exposure to learning and employing new techniques, forcing them to eliminate color and design fewer pages.
I believe that in a public school system, every student should have equal opportunities. Every program worth being offered at the school should receive ample funding to maximize learning. We are doing a great disservice to our talented students who are financially unable to participate. Some may have to work just to cover their own expenses and don't have the time to fundraise on weekends. One student told me that she loved to play the trumpet, but said her parents couldn't afford the costs involved in being in the band. If the Hillsborough County school district truly is operating a public school program, then it needs to take a hard look at how to make the public school offerings available to all students.
As a parent of children in Hillsborough County schools for the past 19 years, I have written many checks so my children could participate in their programs. But there are many children whose parents cannot afford to pay or haven't the free time to work concession stands.
Students who apply to colleges but missed out on participating in these programs due to lack of funds are disadvantaged in competing for admissions. Imagine the talented children left out and what they may have to offer if given the chance. It's time the county takes the "private" out of the public school offerings.
Jean Schutt, Tampa
Contradictory messages | Dec. 17, letter
GOP inflated the bubble
This letter states that "several years ago, Congress, led by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to increase mortgage loans to those who were clearly unqualified," helping to create the housing bubble.
I would like to know when the letter writer thinks Frank and Dodd did such a thing, considering they only became chairman of their respective bodies' banking committees in 2007, after the housing bubble had already burst. It was Republicans, Sen. Richard Shelby and Rep. James Leach, who were the banking committee chairmen from 2001-2006, which is when the housing bubble was occurring and mortgages were easy to get.
Like it or not, the facts show that the Republicans presided over the banking industry during the housing bubble and did nothing to prevent it.
George Petrick, Riverview
Study: We're pretty happy here | Dec. 18
Correlating the happiness of people in their home states with warm, sunny weather seems to contain some validity.
However, I notice another correlation. Of the top 11 states, nine contain primarily conservative electorates run mostly by Republicans. Of the bottom 11 states, nine contain primarily liberal electorates run mostly by Democrats. Is that an accurate indication of the abilities of the competing philosophies to govern happy constituencies?
Peter J. Dawson, St. Petersburg