Mike Bilirakis, Republican candidate for re-election to the U.S. House, District 9 First, I want to thank the editors of the St. Petersburg Times for recognizing my "staunch protection of elderly constituents . . ." It is indeed heartening that your newspaper concedes my continuing work to protect Social Security, Medicare and Older Americans Act programs from spending cuts _ even in the face of mounting budgetary pressures.
But I would question why the Times, in its recent editorial, denigrates my hard work for our senior citizens and instead seeks to criticize me for not agreeing with its support of increased taxes and increased governmental spending.
To explain: During a recent editorial board interview, the Times didn't like my support of a "4 percent" deficit plan which it incorrectly stated would cut entitlements. The plan would actually allow 4 percent increases while restraining the growth of government over time.
Instead, what does the Times favor to address the deficit? In its own editorial of Oct. 6, the Times favors increased gasoline taxes (which hit low-income households the hardest), increased income tax rates to raise $42-billion, increased Medicare payroll taxes to raise $42.7-billion, and _ incredibly _ new taxes on the elderly. If the Times had a vote in Congress, it would tax both Social Security and the insurance value of Medicare.
The Times also didn't like my comments on pending civil rights legislation. It accepted an argument (lock, stock and barrel) that the bill would not require quotas.
I contend that court-ordered remedies, allowed by present drafts of the bill, serve to split our society into competing factions and that if the bill isn't changed it could result in more judicial meddling and restrictive, race-based classifications, i.e. quotas.
Altogether, the Times likes my opponent who doesn't think parents have any rights if their child seeks an abortion, who would allow abortion for sex-selection and "on demand," who has never presented a viable plan to pay for all the increased social spending favored, whose campaign war chest derives primarily from political action committees, and who is funded by an organization that thought Mike Dukakis wasn't liberal enough. So be it.
The Times endorsement is consistent with its obvious long-time philosophy; no surprise there.