As health reform nears, time to get details right | Jan. 17, editorial
The costs are more than details
The headline of your editorial seems to dismiss the need for billions of additional taxpayer dollars for health care as just "details." How can you ignore the obvious fact that our country is on the road to bankruptcy?
The fact that it will take 10 years of tax increases and health care cuts to provide five years of increased coverage is proof that Congress will ignore the obvious, and those responsible will be "long gone" when the system fails in the next decade or sooner.
Your final conclusion is that pushing billions in Medicaid costs on the states is unacceptable and that the government should "cover a larger share" of the needed revenue. From what source will the money come from to "cover a larger share"?
Now Congress wants to give unions and government workers a $60 billion pass on private insurance taxes. Who is going to "cover a larger share" of this cost? From what source will the money come from?
The real issue isn't about health care anymore. It's about an incompetent Congress, which has dug itself a deep fiscal hole and must pass something — anything — or they know they'll be out of office.
Jim Harpham, Palm Harbor
A loss of freedom
I am in favor of a national health plan to cover people who have not been covered for years. It is a crime for the United States to have so many people who lack medical insurance while we send millions and sometimes billions of dollars to foreign countries.
That said, I must disagree strongly with the mandatory part of the proposed health plan, which demands that everyone must buy insurance or face a financial penalty. What will the next step be? Mandatory weight loss? Everyone wear blue on Tuesdays?
This demand that everyone must join takes away freedom and also it imposes a financial penalty. And it does not seem to be a small one.
Does this make sense? I don't think so.
Jean Centore, New Port Richey
Israel steps up in helping Haiti
Many countries and world leaders have accused Israel of responding disproportionately to aggression from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. However, it is time that the media speak of another disproportionate response from Israel.
The terrible, disastrous earthquake in Haiti has generated responses from many nations. The United States has sent supplies and personnel, Britain sent 64 firefighters and eight volunteers, France sent troops for search and rescue. Many large and wealthy nations of the world sent money.
Israel, a nation of 7.5 million people, has sent a team of 220 people that includes medical personnel and will establish the largest field hospital in Haiti, treating up to 5,000 people a day; an experienced search-and-rescue team; and medical supplies. As in previous earthquake disasters, such as in Gujarat, India, in 2001 and in Turkey, and in the bombings in Kenya, Israel has been one of the most generous givers of assistance.
The favorite occupation in the United Nations is Israel-bashing. More resolutions have been passed condemning Israel than all the so-called democratic nations such as Sudan, China, Russia and others for their crimes against their minorities. I think it is time that the world should know about Israel's disproportionate response.
Bruce A. Epstein and Paul Hornsleth, Pinellas Park
Photo from Haiti | Jan. 15
A horrible reality
How blase I have become! This photo of Haiti's earthquake disaster filled me with dismay.
"Just look at all the garbage," I said.
Then I discerned an arm, a leg there, a head here — all seemingly reaching to the sky for help!
"This wasn't garbage," I gasped. "These are humans, just like me!"
One photo brought me to the reality that life is so fragile and, yes, at times we could be "all alone."
Shirley Waggoner, Largo
Obama fails to dent critique from right Jan. 18, E.J. Dionne column
Thank you for publishing E.J. Dionne's column. Finally someone who has an audience (wide readership) has stated the factually obvious in that George W. Bush and the Republicans, with their "hands off the economy" attitude, allowed the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression to occur through deregulation and nonregulation of the financial markets and, as a result, the Democrats are losing elections because they're currently in power.
This ironic injustice will continue unless and until President Barack Obama and the Democrats go on the offensive by articulating who caused the financial crisis in a unified and repetitive message. I guess they've been so busy trying to solve the problems this past year, they haven't had time to remind Americans who caused it.
If Bush and his surrogates can roll out and sell the Iraq war based on falsehoods, Obama and the Democrats should easily be able to sell the truth to Americans on who caused this economic meltdown and that he and the congressional Democrats are working to solve it.
But Obama and the Democrats have to get their act together soon or the 2010 elections will be a Republican landslide.
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
One year later, 502 promises | Jan. 17
The St. Petersburg Times was very generous in the ratings that they gave President Barack Obama on his progress for his first year in office. I was especially surprised to see Promise No. 15 given a Compromise rating. How can 95 percent of the mortgages modified on a trial basis not making it to the permanent basis be considered an "accomplishment that is consistent with the goal of his original promise."
I guess we will see the number of jobs created by the stimulus soar now that the Obama administration has changed the rules on how jobs are counted. More Chicago politics: If you are not getting the numbers you want, change how you count them.
Daniel Pennisi, Palm Harbor
I used to find this section of the news truly independent and informative. However, since the last election it has taken a definite turn to the left. Because the writers are posing the questions, it is easy to portray one side of the political spectrum in an unfair light. For example, you could always raise the issue that would result in "pants on fire" for one political party every day.
It has become obvious that when there is a gray area involved it will result in a reply of "mostly true" for the Democratic statement. However, when it is applied to the Republican side, the same area of grayness results in a "false."
The Jan. 17 article, Obama fares well vs. the Truth-O-Meter, mostly, is a perfect example. Your chart shows him with only one "pants on fire." He has made so many outlandish statements I do not have time to list them all. What about the health care negotiations on C-SPAN that he promised? Doesn't that merit a "pants on fire"? How about the end to business as usual in Washington, then handing out all kinds of "bribes" to get what he wants? If not a "pants on fire," you have to give him at least a "false."
Gary L. Kilborn, St. Petersburg
Stop the beggars
It seems as though you can't pass through a major intersection, or on/off ramp at the interstate, without someone asking for your money. Most of them purport to be homeless, but it seems this is their regular job. I see the same faces at the same intersections day in and day out.
And they don't always just passively ask. They will come right up to your window, knock on it until you answer and ask you why you don't give.
It has gotten out of hand, and the mayors on both sides of the bay need to step up and put an end to it. It is giving Tampa Bay a very bad image.
There are many programs the truly needy can turn to for help. These street-side folks are just looking for a quick, easy buck to then go buy booze or cigarettes.
Until our leaders come to their senses and put an end to this unsafe and intrusive practice, I will just keep my own sign in my car to flash saying, "Got my own problems to take care of, have a nice day."
Ford Smith, Tampa